Monday March 31, 2008

Iconic Images

A new Marian Library exhibit from an artistic couple tells the story of Mary's life and spirituality through iconic images in paint, textiles, wood and stone.

Celeste and Jim Lauristen believe "We are created by our creator God to be creative people" and the Pennsylvania couple will bring that philosophy along with vibrant images of Mary, the mother of Jesus, to a new exhibit presented by the Marian Library at the University of Dayton.

"Past Into Present: Images of Mary's Life" is showing April 3 through June 27 in the Marian Library gallery on the seventh floor of Roesch Library on the University of Dayton campus.

The exhibit, which includes 17 colorful icons, paintings and textile pieces by Celeste Lauristen and a triptych with 12 of her husband Jim Lauristen's carved and sculpted wood and stone works, have been inspired by the couple's inner spirituality and faith. Icons are paintings that depict a religious figure and are meant for prayer.

Triptychs are paintings or carvings made up of three hinged panels; each of Celeste Lauristen's triptych panels represents a Biblical passage. The panel entitled "Verum," which means truth, shows Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well.

As an art teacher for 25 years, Celeste Lauristen said she is drawn to art inspired by the divine. "My art naturally developed from who I was as a person," she said. A master's degree in theology from the Washington Theological Union in Washington, DC further incorporated religion into her work and teaching.

Jim Lauristen, a retired school librarian and currently a Mansfield University library science instructor whose grandfather was a carpenter, always enjoyed working with wood. "After spending time with Celeste setting up art exhibits in theology schools with pieces based on religion and faith, I became more inspired," he said.

Today the Lauritsens work on pieces both separately and together. "I carve pieces similar to, but not, icons," Jim Lauristen said. "Often times I will work on the sculpture and ask Celeste ‘what do you think about this?'" Later she may paint the sculptures he creates.

The exhibit is free and open to the public. Hours for the Marian Library are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and Saturday and Sunday by appointment. To view the exhibit on-line, visit

For more information on the Marian Library /International Marian Research Institute visit or call 937-229-4214. For more information on the Lauritsens' work go to

Sister M. Jean Frisk, S.S.M., at 937-229-4254 or