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The Real Transformers

The Real Transformers
Spring 2010 | Volume 33, Number 1

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin East of the Mercy Gate

Laura Lasworth, SPU Professor of Art

Piere Teilard de Chardin East of the Mercy Gate

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin East of the Mercy Gate
2009 | Oil on wood panel | Size: 12" x 12"

Seattle Pacific University Professor of Art Laura Lasworth wanted to capture the beautiful skies above Puget Sound that she saw from her apartment’s window. But when she began a series of prayerful, contemplative paintings of water and sky based on that view, something was missing.

“I spent about a year just painting the skyscapes, but as paintings, the form didn’t embody the experience I had,” Lasworth says.

To reflect her experience, she had to paint more than what her eyes could see — she had to add figures and objects to the paintings. Then, she says, “I could make this world that was both an internal landscape and an external landscape come together.”

One figure in that landscape is Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955), philosopher, scientist, and Jesuit priest. Though Teilhard’s ideas were dismissed by the Roman Catholic Church and some fellow scientists of his time, the connections he drew between faith and science proved inspirational for future thinkers, scientists, and artists, including Lasworth.

She especially admires Teilhard’s commitment to the church, even when it kept his work from being published in his lifetime. “He didn’t leave; he didn’t become a rebel,” she says. “He stayed, and he had these great insights that came from being a man of faith.”

Because of his commitment, time proved the value of his insights. “He was a leader as someone who could do both poetic writing and science,” she says. “He could give credibility to both and not diminish either one.” Lasworth’s series of paintings, “The Western Wall,” was on view November–December 2009 at the SPU Art Center Gallery and February–March 2010 at the Lora Schlesinger Gallery in Santa Monica, California.

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