2011 – oil on canvas, 160×200 cm
“Et dabo vobis cor novum et spiritum novum ponam in medio vestry. Et auferam cor lapideum de carne vestra et dabo vobis cor carneum”. (“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put into you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh”. Ezekiel 36.26)
This is the phrase I engraved in the bottom of my sculpture “Heart of the World”. It is illustrated by a pile of discarded hearts of stone and the Cloak filled with our Conscience. Above, rises a heart with the portrait of John Paul II, holding a child protectively in his arms.
The Holy Father had a special love for the children of our world, for those suffering from sexual and economic exploitation, from hunger, disease and malnutrition. They form an army of millions of innocent beings, lining the streets of our megacities and fighting in armed conflicts. It is first and foremost these children that we have to love and protect. It is not paradise in the sky, but acts of selflessness and love that bring God’s sacred space and grace to a broken world suffused with tragedy, until the unknown hour when the world is made whole again.
It was an unforgettable day on May 18th 2002, when I was invited, in the company of my husband and the Archbishop of Salzburg, to the Papal Audience on Saint Peter’s square in Rome. When it was my turn to kneel in front of Papa Wojtyla, and explain the meaning of my sculpture, my present for his 82nd birthday, I thought I would faint. I knew in this moment, that I had encountered the Conscience of our World, a Heart embracing all of us with his immense Love.
On this Morning, in front of Pope John Paul II, I made the vow to transform my Cloak sculpture into a chapel, where everybody would be able to meditate and rediscover his inner self. The idea was reinforced in a discussion with the Abbott of the Monastery and Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi, where he encouraged me with a phrase of the Saint, suggesting “to use our own body as a Cloak, in the absence of an appropriate place to pray”.
I believe that we artists have a special duty to labor for the improvement of this world. Aleksandr Solzhenyzin expressed this beautifully with the following words: Artists possess a sharper Conscience of the Harmony of our world than us others, a conscience that they have to transmit to others. This permanent harmony is the reflection of God, which preserves us from brutalization. This is also the meaning of Dostoyevsky’s “Beauty which will save the world”.
Conscience, as the echo of the spirit in our free will, shall radiate from my Cloak; and the most appropriate place to do so would be at “Roma Caput Mundi”, Rome, the spiritual capital of the world.