Friday, March 30, 2012

Donald Lipski's explains St. Paul nautilus

Looks like a fantastic addition to public art in Boston!

This from

To cap off major renovations, the Cathedral Church of St. Paul is getting a new design for its long vacant pediment: A nautilus shell, which will be lit at night.

The design, by Philadelphia artist Donald Lipski, is scheduled for completion by Oct. 7 - the 100th anniversary of the church's dedication as a cathedral (it opened as a church in 1818).

The artist weighs with his explanation of the imagery in what is one of the most elegant, articulate, and clearly written statements I've come across in a long time (also on Artists take note!

Donald Lipski replies
By Donald Lipski (not verified) - 3/28/12 - 7:03 pm

Thank you all for your thoughts. Here are some of mine:

St. Paul’s is a house of prayer for all people. So I wanted to find an image, a
symbol, that would speak to everyone.

I had the spiral in mind before I ever saw the Cathedral in person. The Greek
proportions of St. Paul’s derive from the Golden Rectangle, which in its
perfection generates a spiral. The SPIRAL is a universal symbol of the spiritual
journey. It’s the blueprint for life itself. Carl Jung saw the spiral as the
archetypal symbol of cosmic force.

I came for my first visit on a sparkly day last fall, got there early and took a
walk in the Commons to see what it looked like from a distance. Just a little ways across, and with a beautiful view of the church through the trees, I came across a woman who had made a spiral in the leaves and was walking it over and over like a labyrinth. I took that as a sign. We are all on a path. We spiral in toward our center, and venture out again into the world. The spiral is a symbol for the spiritual journey.

The Spiral is the most pervasive shape in the universe. We see it in the divine
workings of nature—from the movement of sub-atomic particles to the vastness of galaxies. It evokes thoughts of eternal growth and progression, circling out in ever widening circles.

My sculpture will float in front of a blue panel, which I took from the shield and flag of the Episcopal Church. This is the blue used by artists for centuries for the clothing of Jesus's Mother, Mary. It’s called “Madonna Blue” and represents the human nature of Jesus, which He received from His Mother. And that is so apparent in the spirit at St. Paul’s.

The St. Paul’s spiral is a slice from the shell of The Chambered Nautilus, an amazing creature. It starts it’s life in a tiny shell. As it grows, the nautilus
enlarges its shell through the addition of a new, larger, stronger chamber suitable for the next stage of its life. Season by season, these chambers are added, spiraling out with beautiful precision.

Here in Boston, when St. Paul’s was in its infancy, Oliver Wendell Holmes saw the nautilus as a beautiful metaphor for spiritual growth. This is the last stanza of his poem, The Chambered Nautilus:

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,

As the swift seasons roll!

Leave thy low-vaulted past!

Let each new temple, nobler than the last,

Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,

Till thou at length art free,

Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!

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