Christ the Student with the Mother of All Tenderness
Commissioned by La Salle College High school in Pennsylvania. The artist Vivian Imbruglia loves to work on unique projects. The president of the school contacted her and requested that a special image be created for the students for his school. He would write to her with a description of what he envisioned and she would paint it. He would write:
In this icon, it would be important to present the image of a teenaged Jesus, not a child, but not an adult. He is sitting at a table with books and paper around, around sixteen years of age and approaching physical maturity, clearly doing some studying into the evening, perhaps preoccupied and a bit weary. Behind him, over his shoulder is the Blessed Mother. Once again, we would present her differently from the usual way she appears, not as a youthful bride or mother of a baby, but as a middle aged woman, with grey in her hair and wrinkles, somewhat weary herself, but weary from a life of hard work rather than weary from the stress of studies. She is bringing something to her Son that shows her care, a snack, and her hand rests lightly on his shoulder with motherly concern and support.I would envision this presentation being somewhat timeless. That is, Jesus is wearing a white garment which could suggest a tee shirt in our world or a tunic in his. A sleeveless garment is over that—perhaps a earth-toned Patagonia fleece in our world, but just something added for warmth in the time of Christ. His mother is wearing something also white, which could be the typical garment of their day but also a loose blouse or nightdress in our world, with something blue over that. She is not veiled, but both mother and son have their gold halos in accord with the iconographic tradition. The snack itself could be something like fruit and cheese which could be eaten in Palestine or Philadelphia. The icon would be heavy on blues, golds, and whites, appropriate colors for Mary and also for our school.
Vivian would take these words and paint this icon. The image was then dedicated to one of the mothers who worked tirelessly at the school and passed of cancer. The plaque next to the icon would read - In loving memory of Nancy B. Reilly Board Member 2014-2018 Nancy will always be remembered in this icon. AMDG!
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