Nun spreads God's love through art
French sister's painting exhibition in Hong Kong and Macau shares her spiritual journey
Sister Marie-Anastasia Carre stands next to The Merciful Grace, one of her 51 paintings at her exhibition at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Hong Kong. (Photos by Annie Fung/ucanews.com)
Sister Marie-Anastasia Carre's paintings could accurately reflect what Pope Francis once said in La mia idea di arte: "Art, aside from being a credible witness to the beauty of creation, is also a tool of evangelization."
Staring at Christ, the Virgin and the angels in her paintings, people can meet the Lord and listen to his voice from within.
The French nun, from the Community of the Beatitudes, is holding an exhibition of her paintings, titled "Journey of the Heart: A pilgrimage from within," at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Wanchai, Hong Kong.
Sister Marie has previously held exhibitions in France, Macau and Hong Kong. Her latest exhibition, held in association with the Hong Kong Diocesan Audio-Visual Centre, ends on May 20.
The 51 works in watercolor, acrylic, Chinese ink and mixed media, mainly focusing on Jesus, the Virgin Mary, angels and the wedding at Cana, express compassion, mercy and relationships.
Prominent ones include The Merciful Grace, a work in acrylic measuring 160 by 120 centimeters that was painted in 10 minutes at a concert, and the Wedding at Cana series in acrylic comprising three paintings of a Hong Kong-style wedding.
The exhibition will move to the Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady in Macau in June.
Sister Marie hopes her works will help people to respond to God's calling and start their spiritual journeys. She encourages visitors to gaze at Christ and meet the Lord while enjoying the exhibition.
The Disciples to Emmaus was created by Sister Marie in Chinese ink to show how followers recognize Jesus. (Photos by Annie Fung/ucanews.com)
Sister Marie was born in a family of artists in France and studied visual arts at university.
On a rainy Christmas night while visiting Brussels in Belgium, she came to an alley and saw a pastel painting on the ground of the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus that appeared to be shining through the rain.
"I was not very religious and even kept distant from the church. But when I saw the painting, I was shocked to discover He still would find me and spoke to me in the language I used as an artist, even though I was away from Him," Sister Marie said.
"His amazing love is everywhere. I have fallen in love before, but never felt such strong love like His love, which can make all things different. You seem to encounter forgiveness."
After graduation, Sister Marie worked as an art teacher. Yet, heeding the inner call to become a nun, she renounced art and became a consecrated sister at the age of 23.
She devoted herself wholeheartedly to her community's life and never held a paintbrush for the next 11 years.
Many years later, she was sent to the Philippines to work in a youth reformatory, where she was appointed to arrange art activities. She discovered art gives new strength to many young people and they gain new life.
Then she heard God once again talk to her: "It is very good for you to use art to help others, but what about yourself?"
She took up her brush again and began to paint. Almost two years later, she was recalled to France and completed a master's degree in theology. Her thesis was about arts and theology.
The exhibition is the second time Sister Marie has shown her work in Hong Kong. (Photos by Annie Fung/ucanews.com)
After her graduation, the community sent her to preach and engage in arts. She aims to promote Catholic art for spirituality and for sharing the joy of the Gospel, encouraging people to praise the Lord and meet Him through art.
The nun's inspiration for creation comes from her experience in life and prayers but mainly from the Word of God.
Sister Marie described her experience as a calling within a calling. She goes where God wants her to go to preach the universal values of good relationships, faith, hope, compassion and love with believers and non-believers because her creation contained a mission of evangelization.
In her introductory remarks at the exhibition, she said: "Our life is a pilgrimage, a journey where one remains restless until one finds rest in the Lord.
"In this journey of pilgrimage, art has a special mission. It turns the invisible into visible. Art expresses the graces and blessings into light and colors; it makes religious experience available to us.
"Art creation is also a school of the flexibility of the heart. I believe that art is my mission. I share my own journey as a seeker of infinity, seeker of God."