“All Souls Day” and the “Prayer Wall”

Collage that inspired the St. John’s “Prayer Wall”.

In Christianity, “All Souls Day” is the day we look back and remember the faithfully departed, in particular loved ones and relatives.  So today my grandparents, father and brother’s passing was on my mind.

After my father died, I didn’t work in the studio for about a year.  I spent most of my spare time cataloging my father’s 50 years of work that was left in his studio.  It was a daunting task but it was truly a wonderful experience going through my father’s sketchbooks and painting racks.  I found a few gems that I had never seen before.

Once I was finished with my father’s work I was able to get back into the studio.

Where to start, where to start

The St. John’s Episcopal School’s “Prayer Wall” has been up since Ash Wednesday, February 17, 1999.  It was a watershed piece for me.  The image up above was a collage that was unfinished before my father’s passing away.  I really liked the piece but it lacked a context so I decided that this is imagewhere I should start.  I could have easily framed up the collage as is and the whole “Prayer Wall”  would not have materialized but the collage seemed to call me to aspire for it something larger.  So I started by gluing the collage to a red canvas and from there, created a framework that started functioning as a altar piece.  Still the piece lacked a larger context and then I got this idea to create an installation where it would be a safe place for a child to post a prayer about something that was on their heart or something they were thankful for.

Teaching at a Christian school allows me to express my faith without necessary proselytizing.  Advisors and homeroom teachers and their students go to chapel every morning and once a week celebrate Mass.

imageWhen I introduced the idea of the “Prayer Wall” to my students, one of the first to create a prayer for it was Grant Schmidt. His prayer was.  “I am thank full for ever thang”.

Over the years the “Prayer Wall” has been moved around and when it was moved to it’s latest location many years ago, my ego got in the way and I wasn’t happy with it’s placement.  I thought maybe that it’s time had passed and that maybe it was time to take it home.

Pretty much as soon as I took it down, I started getting the questions from my students, “Where is our “Prayer Wall”.  It was humbling to say the least to be reminded that it wasn’t mine to take home.

The presence location turned out to be the prefect place for it and become a real focal point of the school and it’s students.  When perspective parents are toured through the building, they always stop at the “Prayer Wall” to talk about it. It even briefly appeared in the movie, “Occupy Texas” that was written, and starred  in by one of my former students, Chris Gallerano.

Here is a video that was done on the “Prayer Wall” that was produced by the Catholic Church.

I’ve been sitting on this blog posting for a while trying to figure out how I wanted to wrap it up.  So today in Eucharist, we celebrated “All Souls Day”.   I thought back to my father’s passing and thought that his death really spurred on the creation of the “Prayer Wall”.  Not sure if I would have ever thought to have created this without that life changing experience of losing one of one’s parents.

So here is to “All Souls Day” and to all those we’ve loved and lost.

May light perpetual, shine upon them.

Links about the St. John’s Prayer Wall

Art of the Prayer by Father John Thorpe

Episcopal Church Visual Arts




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