The Co-Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist welcomes internationally acclaimed contemporary artist Simon Toparovsky to Rochester to celebrate the installation of his latest sculptures here at the Co-Cathedral. We share excerpts from the news release offered to media by his publicist, Beth Laski, prior to his visit.
“Using his narrative skills as a visual poet, Mr. Toparovsky’s sculptures depict John the Apostle and Evangelist, and Mary, the Mother of Jesus, together after the Resurrection, with a focus on the closeness of their relationship as they lived together, taking care of one another as Christ had called for them to do from the Cross. The elements of Mr. Toparovsky’s work in the newly constructed shrine include free-standing sculpture, architectural components of native stone, digital imagery, wall art and theater lighting. A ceiling oculus represents the portal to heaven, a path from the Source that illuminates John and Mary.
The idea for Mr. Toparovsky to create a mixed-media commission was initially conceived over ten years ago when the Reverend Monsignor Gerald Mahon and Parish Administrator Margaret Kelsey of the Co-Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Rochester, Minnesota, were in Los Angeles and witnessed Mr. Toparovsky’s life-size bronze Main Altar Crucifix at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
Mr. Toparovsky had been selected from a worldwide search to design and create the Crucifix for what was then the new Cathedral in Los Angeles. The Crucifix, Mr. Toparovsky’s first liturgical commission, has become a beloved icon, celebrated for its artistry and evocation of compassion in the devotional practice of the Cathedral’s hundreds of thousands of annual visitors and parishioners.
Msgr. Mahon kept Mr. Toparovsky’s contact information close, knowing at some point he would reach out to him to commission a work of art. That time came in May 2016 when Msgr. Mahon and Ms. Kelsey knew that Mr. Toparovsky’s sensitivity to spiritual aspects as well as his artistic recognition made him the perfect artist to create John and Mary for the Church and its parishioners who hail from Rochester and surrounding communities, as well as visitors to and employees of the neighboring, top-ranked Mayo Clinic.
‘John and Mary are a model for all of us on the journey,’ explains Msgr. Mahon. ‘We do not become a Light in isolation, but through a relational order of trust, love, peace and the depth of our humanity alive in an experience of being surprised in front of the Mystery, in front of reality. We are always searching on the path; otherwise, Christ is no longer interesting and dynamic. John and Mary show us how to be available in their way to yearn for companionship and they invite and embrace others to join them in community. The powerful gift of this work will be a call to be vulnerable and know our limitations, our fragility—to stand in front of these companions who call us to a new life of resting in His presence with enormous expectation,’ said Msgr. Mahon.
Added Mr. Toparovsky: ‘It is a privilege and joy to create a new liturgical work, to portray a compelling story in the Christian tradition that bears witness to courage and vulnerability, and whose mandate is demonstrating love. For Mary, the mother of God and John, the beloved apostle, “the preferred of Christ,” carrying the weight of the world, sharing the ecstasy of the Presence of the Light, reflecting the Light for the world—this shared Love is the answer.’
During nearly four decades as a sculptor and visual poet, Mr. Toparovsky has been praised as ‘an individual voice’ and an ‘adventurer’; his work described as ‘eloquent and noble,’ noteworthy ‘for its powerful evocation of spirituality, joy and the hope it bears.’ Mr. Toparovsky’s diverse practice of sculpture, photography and digital imaging explores ephemeral narratives of the human condition.”