At the Catholic Creatives’ New York regional summit on Nov. 9, young Catholics — from designers and podcasters, to video producers and poets — gathered for a day of networking, prayer and workshops aimed at inspiring them to use their gifts to co-create with Christ to help reinvigorate the church. (Photos: Allyson Escobar)
MANHATTAN — The concept of a starving artist is a familiar one, especially for an artist trying to make a living.
It’s an idea that Erin McAtee — a resident artist at the Sheen Center for Arts & Culture, a center in Manhattan run by the Archdiocese of New York that hosts movies, plays, art galleries and other events — understands.
McAtee and fellow Catholic artist shared their experiences at a networking event hosted by Catholic Creatives, a national organization of 4,000 Catholics in creative fields, earlier this month in lower Manhattan. The day highlighted the need the church has for creative talent to help spread the Gospel and the need artists have for financial support.
McAtee — who specializes in portraiture, drawing, woodcuts, printmaking and painting — said that many young artists fear instability and lack financial freedom. But finding a network of prayerful artists who understand their lifestyle helps them feel less stuck.
“It’s a process of learning to trust God the Father more than anything before,” McAtee, 25, said. “Having support and community is essential in this artistic lifestyle, because there are a lot of unknowns. We have to just trust that God will provide those means.”
Catholic Creatives was started by a group of creatives in the Dallas, Texas area in 2014, with the goal of bringing young Catholics artists together to try and energize the church with creative talent. Projects members have worked on range from sprucing up church bulletins to designing Catholic websites to producing religious videos. The group is funded largely through a partnership with Catholic publisher Our Sunday Visitor, and with some help from local and diocesan partnerships.
This year, Our Sunday Visitor is funding the OSV Innovation Challenge, a contest for three separate $100,000 prizes to Catholic innovators who have ideas for projects that will have a lasting impact on the church. Hundreds of individuals, teams and businesses have already applied.
“There is a movement, energy and vigor around solving or addressing problems in the church, to do something good, and rally around what it means to be an artist, working to co-create with God,” Cody Barras, executive director of Catholic Creatives, said.
“We’ve found that all across the country, individuals are coming together to work toward ushering in a New Renaissance in art, creativity and innovation in the Catholic Church. Catholic Creatives has simply been a catalyst for God’s work in many places … They are fruits of this movement of the Holy Spirit,” Barras said.
Catholic Creatives’ Nov. 9 meeting in Manhattan was sponsored in part by DeSales Media Group, which is The Tablet’s parent company; the OSV Institute; Franciscan Friars of the Renewal; and the Alliance for Defending Freedom. Creatives gathered for a day of talks, networking, prayer and workshops.
“As a generation of creators, the status quo of poorly done, cringy church media is not acceptable. We need to revamp communicate the Gospel on a new level,” said Maria Mitchell, a video producer and brand manager. “The church needs more artists and opportunities for beauty. We all just want to innovate and bring our different skills and talents together. Catholic Creatives helps us connect and reinvigorate one another.”
“A church that is not beautiful is a church that doesn’t know how to communicate what it’s supposed to, which is the Gospel,” said Anthony D’Ambrosio, co-founder of Catholic Creatives. “I think that we as a church need to go beyond language in order to evangelize. We have to start using nakedness, beauty and imagery to heal.”