Return to Beauty: Kathleen Carr and The Catholic Art Institute

Kathleen Carr is an incredible artist and Catholic arts influencer who is doing great work on many fronts.  She is the founder and president of the Catholic Art Institute (CAI), the only Catholic arts organization of its kind that exists to restore a culture of truth, beauty, and goodness by empowering artists to use their gifts to glorify God and captivate souls through beauty. 

The CAI has quickly become a leading voice for Catholic arts and artists, recognizing the essential need for beauty to elevate the human senses and illuminate the soul.  It assists the culture and makes a tremendous contribution in helping people to see that churches, as images of heaven on earth, should be adorned and designed by excellent artists and architects pursuing the utmost excellence in their sublime crafts.

Kathleen has a painting degree and studied classical painting after her college studies.  Her works are truly impressive and can be seen on her personal website here.  In 2013 she felt called to paint sacred art and the following year was encouraged to found a Catholic arts organization and thus the CAI was founded in Chicago as a lay apostolate in collaboration with St. John Cantius parish.  Kathleen shared at the time: "I was inspired by the Catholic vision that all art flows from the altar.  It seemed natural to form an artist guild with the support of a religious community that lives and breathes the liturgy."  

Since 2017 the CAI has really taken off and the enriching work consumes Kathleen's energies with diverse educational programming and other exiting initiatives.  This includes a speaker series, workshops, and an annual conference and gala dinner that brings together top scholars, artists, architects, designers, art influencers, benefactors, and others.

Kathleen is not only a gifted artist, but also a dedicated art teacher.  She paints both sacred art as well as portraits and narrative figure paintings.  Over the years through her work and research for the CAI she has come to understand a real need for idealization in sacred art and so today she takes a considered approach to passing this vision on to others.  Her artistic eye is revealed in the captivating marketing and branding of the CAI, evidenced by the impressive graphics and website she has produced.  

God bless and reward Kathleen and her collaborators for her great work and the work of the CAI.  Their vital mission continues to inspire a renewed appreciation for the power of beauty and its role in evangelization in the culture, not only through community events and presentations, but also through training and promoting artists trained according to the wisdom of past generations and the mind of the Church.  

Readers are invited to become members of the CAI - you may enroll here.  Membership helps in the unique mission to restore truth, beauty, and goodness - transcendent values - which are crucial for the revitalization of Catholic life.  The important discussion fostered by the CAI is helping Catholics to re-value the sacramental significance of beauty, seeing God in creation and glorifying Him in the work of our hands, giving due honor to Him.  

Through aesthetics Catholic life and worship bears full witness to an authentic encounter with the divine.  True religious art stirs the deepest longings of the human spirit for God.  Art in Catholic churches is a sign of God's presence on earth and represents the first fruits of a return to the Creator freely given as an offering of praise and thanksgiving, homage, and adoration.  

Below are a few art samples of Kathleen's works, religious images painted oil on wood panel.  Also is an image of a statue she restored for the National Shrine of St. Alphonsus FSSP parish in Baltimore, Maryland.  The beautiful 22k gold leaf frames seen below with corbels and detailed molding were made of birch wood by the artist herself.  Her religious images speak in manifold ways and at a depth that nothing else can touch.     

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