Creation of the Week #29 Ryan McQuade's Lent Companion

Welcome to Creation of the Week, where we usually feature one of the members of the group and their recent work. I say "usually," because this time, though I am featuring a group member, I'm also making a case for two of our favorite punching bags: postmodernism and minimalism.

Many times we look at modern genre as Catholics and we criticize it is fadish. We see genre as the lesser artist's crutch, pedantic and needlessly the same. This is certainly true of many "artists" who shock their soulless audiences out of numbness by sheer virtue of their novelty. I do not think this is an accurate assessment of modern genre as a whole, however. 

It is, in my view, much more like an economy, a massively complex cultural conversation. The modern artist hangs their piece onto genre's art gallery where each piece speaks to the others in open dialogue and sometimes in fiery argument. For the Catholic artist, to enter into genre is to speak eternal truth in a language that the modern heart can receive it.

This is precisely what T.S . Eliot did in his poem "The Wasteland." He uses modernism's own genre to point out its emptiness. 

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water.
— T.S. Elliot - The Waste Land

Ryan does something very similar with LifeTeen's Lenten companion. He employs the language of minimalism to speak to the unchurched teen of what is truly essential.  He carries the very ethos of Lent in the charcoals and whites. The simple clear type set on the dark background speaks of drama and tragedy. As a whole when I look at this piece, I hear the words in my heart: "memento mori."

Ryan, don't listen to the naysayers that tell you to stop being so modern. You keep doing what you're doing brother. Your target audience isn't the intellectually formed Catholic anyway, is it?