Restoring MasterpiecesLaurence Tiblis
They stand tall and reverent in St. Vincent de Paul Seminary courtyard. They are monuments to our Catholic faith and inspire us in our daily lives. The courtyard statues of Jesus, Mary, and a Guardian Angel, which adorn the outdoor terrain behind the Seminary, recently received a “face lift” to help preserve and enhance their presence as focal points for prayer and devotion.
This past spring, the Vincentians contacted Matthew Szczepanowski, a renowned, local artist and art conservator, to restore and repair the statues. Szczepanowski has done numerous restoration projects for the Vincentians and The Miraculous Medal Shrine over the past few years. His eye to detail and connecting the artwork with its surroundings have brought his talents to an expertise, making him the perfect person for the job.
Painting these 19th century French, wrought iron statues is no easy task. He studies the art carefully to ensure his restoration creates a richness to the work. “There is a way of painting three-dimensional painting. It’s a very specialized type of painting with depth as an underlying enhancement,” claims Szczepanowski, “It is important to maintain the depth and the balance of color.”
He doesn’t take this task lightly. “When choosing colors, I must keep in mind the generations of faithful, who came and continue to come to the statues to pray. I approach the process with faith and love.”
Szczepanowski’s knowledge and experience in creating durable and aesthetically pleasing restorations are inspired by the subject of the statues and their natural surroundings. He notes that he used more intense colors for Our Lady’s statue, because the area around her statue called for it. It took experimentation and understanding to expertly paint the artwork, which he believes must portray the beauty and faith of our Christian beliefs.