By Gene Buglewicz
Simon Quiriconi and Cristian Costa, artists from Stagi Masaici Artistici in Pietrasanta, Italy, recently completed installing a glass mosaic on the south face of St. John the Evangelist Church in Oxford. The mosaic was created in their Italian studio where they produced and crafted thousands of pieces of colored glass that would complete the mosaic.
The mosaic was first laid out face down, backside up. A composite material, similar to paper with glue attached was spread over the glass pieces. After drying, contour lines were drawn over the paper material dividing the mosaic into pieces. It was then divided into pieces following the contour lines and packed for shipment to the United States. After arriving in Oxford, the boxes were unloaded and the mosaic re-constructed, again, face down.
It took only three days to complete the project once the Italian artists arrived in Oxford and began work. They first laid out the mosaic on the floor and made sure the lines on the back of the mosaic all matched and fit together like a puzzle. The large pieces of mosaic were then pressed onto the front niche on the outside of the Church and the mosaic took shape. The glass surface, now permanently exposed to the outside and bonded to the church, was smeared with grout, similar to grouting bathtub tile. After drying, the glass pieces were cleaned. Final plans call for the mosaic to be permanently lit at night.
The mosaic is a depiction of St. John the Evangelist. He is shown on a rocky landscape which is representative of Patmos where he composed the Book of Revelation. John is typically shown as either a clean-shaven young man or a bearded old man. The mosaic portrays John as he is maturing, which is representative of the role the parish plays as students at the University of Mississippi begin to mature in their faith.
St. John is shown wearing the colors of blue and red, which are not only the colors of the University of Mississippi but the colors associated with the Divine Mercy; Spirit and Water. The eagle is his attribute and seen flying across a night sky. Although the eagle is not a night predator, the use of night and the bright moon acknowledge the themes of darkness and light which play out in John’s Gospel.
The mosaic was a gift to St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church from Knights of Columbus Council 10901 of St. John. This depiction of St. John was created by Lee Ann O’Keefe, a member of St. John’s Parish, and facilitated by Catholic Supply of St. Louis, Missouri.