Tuesday, July 11
St. Hope of Rome, Virgin and Martyr. Matthew Alderman, Ink on vellum, June 2006.
Just a brief update answering the question of what Matt's been up to, besides playing at La vie boheme and enjoying the pleasures of urban living--I've been drawing! Here's a sample of my latest work, a small ink drawing intended as a slightly late birthday gift for friend and fellow Catholic nerd domer The Sober Sophomore, depicting the virgin martyr St. Hope. Doing art as a gift is always a pleasure as, for one thing, it forces me to finish something, and it also means you have to create something significant both to yourself and also capable of being shared. It takes you out of yourself in a small degree, something intensely important for a Christian artist. Most of my best drawings I've done as gifts for friends.
I've shown her in the robes of a Byzantine empress, referring to the popularity of the cultus of her mother St. Sophia's namesake, Holy Wisdom, in Constantinople. The polyglot macronic inscription Agia Spes is inspired by similar examples at San Clemente in Rome (Agios Paulus, for instance) and also highlights this east-west connection. Her symbol, the anchor, is shown in her right hand, alongside the pot of steaming pitch used in her gruesome and unnecessarily complex martyrdom. Other symbols of hope, such as the sparrow, a combined anchor-and-Chrismon insignia, and the inscription Spera in Deo from the Tridentine liturgy, are evident throughout the composition, as well. The style of the drawing is equal parts inspired by Byzantine iconography, fifteenth- and sixteenth-century German woodcut art, and art nouveau, as well as my continuing interest in incorporating figures into architectural framing elements such as the shrine-like niche in which the saint stands.
Watch this space for better photographs of this particular piece of work, as well as a number of ink drawings as they get finished, including a drawing of St. Gregory flanked by his parents intended as a gift for my mom and dad; as well as my first detailed half-length portrait--commissioned by my fellow New Yorker, journalist Dawn Eden--both of which promise to be exciting new challenges.