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.
$35 (Pre-registration required.)
Claire Miller Colombo, Ph.D., is Director of the Center for Writing and Creative Expression and Lecturer in Theology and the Arts at Seminary of the Southwest, where she develops arts programming and teaches in the areas of writing, spiritual formation, and theological aesthetics. She is the editor of Soul by Southwest, the seminary’s literary and arts journal, and hosts Soul in the City, an event series featuring musicians and creatives from across Central Texas. Claire has published poems, scholarly articles, and meditations in a range of publications. Together with Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, she is the co-author of Colossians in the Wisdom Commentary Series (Liturgical Press, 2017).