In this third artistic collaboration, Filippo Rossi and Susan Kanaga, CJ, explore imagery of light within the context of abstract sacred art. Rossi, an Italian Catholic, and Kanaga, a Protestant from the USA, approach light, a major and complex symbol, through their own faith traditions.
Insubstantial but real and emanating from a source, light illuminates darkness and allows us to see. Physical light is the very basis of all life on earth. For the Christian, light is a symbol that evokes a broad list of otherworldly qualities; it speaks of goodness, revelation, blessing, and truth. Jesus Christ, the light of the world, leads all believers to a new life in him. Light is the symbol of salvation. Through Light is an expression of beauty and truth as seen through the eyes of Rossi and Kanaga as they strive to create a material and spiritual balance toward an ecumenical vision.
Filippo Rossi (b. 1970), has been exhibiting his work since 1994 and has been exploring the themes of Christian sacred art for over 20 years. After training in the life drawing school at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, he graduated in art history from the University of Florence.
Since 1997 he has been Visiting Professor at the Stanford University Centre for Overseas Studies in Florence. He also collaborates with the art historian Timothy Verdon. He is currently Coordinator of the Diocesan Office of Sacred Art and Church Cultural Heritage at the Archdiocese of Florence. His works are conserved in museums and collections both in Italy and abroad.
On the 21st of November 2009, he was the youngest artist to be invited to the audience with Pope Benedict XVI in the Sistine Chapel. In 2011—along with Mario Botta, Mario Ceroli, Mimmo Paladino and others—he was invited by the Florence Cathedral Foundation (Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore) to take part in the competition for a pulpit for the Cathedral. In 2012 he accepted the invitation from the Derix Glasstudio in Frankfurt (Germany) to collaborate with their technicians in translating some of his paintings into stained glass.
Filippo conducts training workshops in the United States and Italy. He collaborates with leading Italian publishers. His most recent solo shows have been hosted at Museo della Porziuncola (Assisi), Arciconfraternita della Misericordia and Basilica di Santa Croce (Florence), Monastero di Camaldoli (Arezzo), Abbaye Notre-Dame de Boscodon (France), Mount Tabor Ecumenical Centre for Art & Spirituality in Barga (Lucca), Cape Cod –Massachusetts (USA), Palazzo Panciatichi and Palazzo Medici Riccardi (Florence), Meiboyi Arts Centre Shanghai (China), Bressanone, Bergamo, Cortona, Fès-Rabat (Morocco), the Italian Embassy in Rome, and Washington DC.
In 2017, Susan and Filippo created “Spirito Creatore” curated by Timothy Verdon, and installed as a temporary exhibition at the Museo del Duomo in Florence, Italy. This multimedia installation was part of an international symposium, “The Arts and Ecumenism: What Theology Risks in Artistic Creation,” commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.
Susan Kanaga, cj, has been a member of the Community of Jesus since 1983. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Painting from the Maine College of Art, a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Denver, and an Associate’s Degree in Paralegal Studies from Rockhurst College.
Art is Susan’s passion. Prior to returning to painting, she had diverse artistic experience. After studying in New York City and London, she was a professional makeup artist, costume designer, and florist. Susan also studied mosaic in Ravenna, Italy, as an apprentice to Master Mosaicist Alessandra Caprara of Mosaici Antichi e Moderni, and helped fabricate the mosaic floor of the Church of the Transfiguration in Orleans, Massachusetts.
In 2004 Susan was commissioned to design a creation cycle of stone sculpture for the Atrium of the Church of the Transfiguration, including 10 limestone capitals depicting the seven days of creation, and the monumental (8-ton) lintel over the main doorway, working with Master Sculptor Régis Demange.
In 2014, Susan collaborated with Filippo Rossi for the exhibition Luce del Mondo (Light of the World) at the Mount Tabor Ecumenical Centre for Art and Spirituality in Barga, Italy, and at the Community of Jesus in Orleans, Massachusetts. In 2015, Susan and Filippo collaborated again for the exhibition Frammenti (Fragments) exhibited in Barga, Italy, and at the Community of Jesus. Also in 2015, Susan exhibited at the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence, Italy, contributing artwork for the Si Fece Carne exhibition held in conjunction with the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. In May of 2016, Susan and Filippo collaborated again with an exhibition “Through Light” in Bergamo, Italy, and then in Barga, Italy. In 2017, Susan and Filippo created “Spirito Creatore” curated by Timothy Verdon, and installed as a temporary exhibition at the Museo del Duomo in Florence, Italy. This multimedia installation was part of an international symposium, “The Arts and Ecumenism: What Theology Risks in Artistic Creation,” commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.
Susan lives currently in Lucca, Italy, while pursuing a Master’s Degree with emphasis on abstract sacred art, studying under the direction of Dr. Filippo Rossi.
Filippo Rossi, Detail of Reflections / Particolare di Riflessioni
Susan Kanaga, cj, Detail of Light Strips / Particolare di Strisce luminose