Thursday, January 22, 2015

Walsh University Hosts Art Exhibit Karen Laub-Novak: A Catholic Artist in the Age of Vatican II

 Walsh Exhibit Marks First For Artist and Art Educator

North Canton, Ohio: January 21, 2015 – Walsh University will host a new art exhibition, Karen Laub-Novak: A Catholic Artist in the Age of Vatican II, beginning January 26 and running through March 15, in the Birk Center for the Arts’ Atrium Gallery. Walsh University’s presentation of works by Karen Laub-Novak is the first scholarly survey of this artist and art educator. 

Held in conjunction with the 40th Annual Philosophy-Theology Symposium, this solo exhibition features works of art by the late Washington, DC, artist, Karen Laub-Novak (1937-2009). On display will be 36 drawings, prints and paintings by Laub-Novak that encompass her career from the time of the Vatican II reforms of the Roman Catholic Church in the early 1960s through 2000. 

Karen Laub-Novak: A Catholic Artist in the Age of Vatican II features early graphic art experiments in modernist Catholic iconography created while the artist was a student at Carleton College in Minnesota in the 1950s. Following her graduation from the MFA program at the University of Iowa, where she studied under the printmaker Mauricio Lasansky (1914-2012), she married Michael Novak and accompanied him to attend and observe the reform processes of Vatican II in Rome. While there she contacted a printmaking atelier and produced her first graphic series: copper plate etchings based upon T. S Eliot’s (1888-1965) Christian conversion poem, Ash Wednesday. She published them in 1964. 

Subsequent printmaking ventures were based upon the Apocalypse of Saint John and the Duino Elegies by Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926). In addition to these works, the exhibition includes existential figurative imagery, paintings based upon Genesis (Jacob and the Angel) and Exodus (Moses), and sketchbooks that manifest her artistic thinking and singular stylistic portrayal of the human figure. 

According to exhibition curator and art historian Gordon Fuglie, Head of Curatorial Affairs for the Central California Museum of Art, “Laub-Novak was one of the vanguard of faithful Catholic artists from the Vatican II era who believed that modernist artistic expressions were not only compatible with the faith, but also were capable of opening up new insights into Church traditions.” 

The Atrium Gallery at the Birk Center for the Arts is open daily from 8 am – 9 pm. Admission is free. For more information, contact Director of Museum Studies Dr. Katherine Brown at or 330-490-7509.

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