In his address to gathered artists in Rome last year, Pope Benedict spoke of the importance of art in the evangelization of the whole culture and how beauty is a principle that can inform all human activity – work and leisure as well as worship.
Pope Benedict noted that when man works beautifully, he works in cooperation with God’s grace and is on the ‘via pulchritudinis’ – the Way of Beauty. This path leads man ultimately to God and which, crucially, attracts others to Him.
In response to the Pope’s call to follow the Way of Beauty, Thomas More College’s artist-in-residence, David Clayton, has created a blog dedicated to communicating what the culture of beauty is and focusing on the link between Catholic culture and the liturgy. Of interest to Catholics and general readers alike, the blog can be found at www.TheWayofBeauty.org.
“In my work at Thomas More College and in my travels throughout the States,” said Mr. Clayton, “I have seen a tremendous demand and thirst for beauty. People want to understand more deeply the divinely-created order found in nature and make it part of their everyday lives. These ideas are rarely discussed in modern society, so I created the Way of Beauty blog in the hope of revitalizing what were once widely accepted principles: beauty in harmony with goodness and truth.”
“I am an artist,” Mr. Clayton continued, “so much of what I talk about is focused on art, but man can do anything beautifully, and this blog will reflect that too. Already in addition to art, we have articles about creativity in science, music and prayer.”
The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts launched its Way of Beauty program last year to explore these ideas through public workshops and lectures. Two courses have also been implemented into the College’s core curriculum for undergraduates where students study the pattern, harmony, symmetry, and order in nature, viewed as a reflection of the Divine Order— and which are also reflected in the rhythms and cycles of the liturgy.
“Christian culture, like classical culture before it, was patterned after this cosmic order, whose unifying principles run through every traditional discipline,” said Mr. Clayton. “Literature, art, music, architecture, philosophy—all creation and, potentially, all human activity—are bound together by this common harmony and receive their fullest meaning in the Church’s liturgy.”
Mr. Clayton added that, “These are ideas I explore with students in the classroom, and they are ideas that will now be explored publically through the Way of Beauty blog.”
Mr. Clayton is also hosting a series of three programs this summer that provide training to artists and aspiring artists in iconography, naturalistic drawing, and the principles of Catholic art. More information can be found at www.ThomasMoreCollege.edu/SummerPrograms.
David Clayton is a graduate of Oxford University. He studied the academic method of naturalistic drawing at one of the leading ateliers of Florence, and has been trained in the techniques of Byzantine iconography. In addition to previous significant commissions for church art, Clayton has created for the Thomas More College chapel an icon of the Sacred Heart, another of the Madonna, and a six foot crucifix in the Gothic style that hangs over the altar.