Art at St. Paul's

Updated: Aug 4, 2020

The art found in The Church of St. Paul the Apostle was initially curated by a group of artists hired by Paulist Father George Deshon. The church has been consistently growing it's collection ever since, under the guidance of many different artistic influences, and has accumulated religious works representing a wide variety of styles, mediums, and cultures.

In 1898, muralist William Laurel Harris (1870-1924) was placed in charge of the decoration of the church. For fifteen years, he lived with the Paulist Fathers and created or curated much of the art that can be seen in the church today. This depiction of Saint Patrick was one of many of Harris' murals that were once displayed in the church. Sadly, many of his pieces were destroyed during a disastrous cleaning accident in 1958, but the Saint Patrick Altar, and the Saint Catherine Altar, seen below, survived, and provide an excellent representation of his work.

Harris was heavily influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a secret society of artists in London who valued maximum realism and classical elegance, and placed special significance on nature, which can be seen in the leaf and vine motifs on both of these altars. Harris's work is also representative of the "City Beautiful" movement, which saw aesthetics prioritized over functionality in urban spaces.

The St. Catherine Altar is also notable for it's inclusion of "Resurrection", a sculpture by Alan Detrich, pictured here at the bottom of the frame. In this piece, Jesus is depicted using Tyrannosaurus Rex bone fragments bound together by gold, silver, and other valuable materials. The use of these materials is, according to the artist, meant to "explore connections between time, origin, and spirituality." By using "God's first creations" in his art, Detrich hopes to "let God's light shine forth".