ONLINE: Carrying Grief: Charles Umlauf's Pieta in a Time of Pandemic

Mar 26 (F) 12-1:30p $35 (Pre-registration required.) Presented Virtually via Zoom
If you’ve ever wandered through the Umlauf Sculpture Garden in Austin, Texas, you may have noticed a 1945 work titled Pieta (meaning “compassion” in Italian).

Umlauf often took inspiration from sacred subjects, and, from the garden sidewalk, this particular Pieta presents a familiar rendering of the common theme: Mary, the grieving mother of Jesus, supporting the body of her murdered son. But if you step off the sidewalk and circle to the back of the sculpture, you discover a concealed third form: Mary Magdalene, beloved friend of Jesus, huddled against the public pair in a private grief of her own.

As it did in 1945, at the close of World War II, the world staggers today under the weight of a public, collective grief. At the same time, after months of isolation, each of us carries private griefs and burdens of our own. Umlauf’s sculpture is a powerful reminder that these seen and unseen griefs are intertwined — and that both deserve our compassionate attention and a tender response.

In this session, we will use a modified version of visio divina to contemplate this remarkable Pieta and to listen to its wisdom for us today. Art lovers (and wannabees), contemplatives, visual learners, and people who simply want to know more about Umlauf and his work — or, as Central Texans, feel that they should! — are especially encouraged to attend.

Claire Miller Colombo, Ph.D.