By JESSICA ABLE
Record Staff Writer
Students and visitors of St. Patrick School, 1000 N. Beckley Station Road, will soon have new artwork to gaze upon in the entryway to the school.
Kim Catalina, a parishioner of St. Patrick Church, is in the process of creating 10 paintings that depict key events in the
history of the universal Catholic Church and the rich Catholic history in Kentucky. The canvases will be featured prominently in the entryway to the school.
Dr. Michael L. Bratcher, St. Patrick School principal, said the project came about because he wanted there “to be no question that this was a Catholic school from the moment you walked through the door.”
“We are a Catholic school at the beginning of the day, at the end of the day and all the hours in between,” he said.
The ten 30-inch by 40-inch wrap around canvases will hang in two even rows in the light-filled lobby of the school. When work on the canvases is complete — perhaps before Christmas — the school plans
to add gallery lighting and plaques describing the meaning and importance of each one, Catalina noted.
The first painting will depict the Holy Spirit descending upon the apostles on the feast of the Pentecost. The second painting, which Catalina is currently working on, is of St. Peter’s Basilica. The third shows the Irish countryside, a nod to St. Patrick, the school’s namesake and patron.
On the fourth canvas the script of the Nicene Creed is printed. The fifth painting will be of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who opened the first Catholic school in the U.S. and is considered the patron saint of Catholic schools. The sixth canvas is painted in bright hues and shows the connection between Baltimore and Kentucky, representing when the first Catholics traveled from Maryland and settled in Kentucky in 1775, Catalina said.
Holy Cross Church in Holy Cross, Ky., is featured in the seventh painting. The historic church near Bardstown was the first Catholic church established in Kentucky in 1790. The eighth canvas represents the Diocese of Bardstown (the forerunner to the Archdiocese of Louisville) and features Bishop Benedict Joseph Flaget.
The ninth painting will show St. Patrick School as it was when it opened its doors in 1993, and the last canvas will show the school as it appears today.
Catalina, who possesses a bubbly, energetic personality, began work on the canvases in May just before the end of last school year. Since then she has steadily been working on the paintings and hopes to complete them by Christmas.
She said before she begins each painting she takes a moment to pray.
“Before each one, I go in church, light a candle and pray for guidance,” she said in an interview at the school Oct. 18. “With each canvas I try to do something different. I take a deep breath and hope it turns out well.”
Catalina has been a parishioner of St. Patrick for about 11 years. She and her husband, Tony, have two sons, Curtis, a freshman at Trinity High School, and Kae, a sixth-grader at St. Patrick.
An artist by trade, Catalina first took art lessons when she was 19. The California native earned a bachelor’s degree in art and graphic design from California State University — Northridge. She also has an associate’s degree in fine art and is halfway towards a master’s degree in illustration.
This is not the first artwork she has created for the St. Patrick community. About 10 years ago, she created abstract banners for the church. She also painted a mural in the library a number of years ago and used to regularly put together displays around the school.
“I like to work with different mediums. I like to try different things. I also do photography, but I always come back to painting,” she said.
When the idea of the pictorial timeline came up, many ideas were thrown around, Catalina said.
“We ended up choosing the separate canvases so they could be moved about the school. They don’t always have to be together. One can be taken in a classroom as a learning tool,” she said.
Catalina said she’s been inspired and greatly supported by her family in her efforts to complete the artwork.
“When I go into my art room (at home), they know I’m working. … There have been times when I get up in the middle of the night because an idea came to me,” she said.
Catalina said she doesn’t know exactly how many hours she has donated to the project but said she works on the paintings about four days a week.
“It’s not just the actual painting that takes time, it’s researching it all,” she said.
As part of her artistic process, Catalina has done extensive research on each of the canvases.
“For the Holy Cross piece, I went to the church. I just walked around and got the feel of it,” she said.
In addition to the paintings, Catalina and her son Kae crafted a crucifix out of wood debris found in Southern Indiana after the deadly March tornadoes.
“We went with a group to help clear away the debris and came across a man cutting up a tree. It just kind of came to me to create a crucifix out of it — a kind of living tree. My son whittled it down,” she said.
The eight foot by four foot piece hangs on the wall adjacent to the paintings in the entryway.
Catalina, who has donated her time and talent to the project (the school has paid for the supplies), said she feels that it is just part of her stewardship to the school.
“Each year I try to do different things to help the school. This is just another example of stewardship,” she said.
Bratcher said the artwork speaks volumes to the Catholic identity represented at St. Patrick.
“It helps students understand the history of the church and the school,” he said. “I think it’s awesome for the students to be able to see the work come to life and appreciate it for what it is.”
Father Martin A. Linebach, pastor of St. Patrick Church, believes the artwork will demonstrate to the students that “we really stand on the shoulders of those who go before us.”
“What a great thing for Kim to do for our school and church. … I like to think of this as a spiritual exercise as well as an artistic exercise,” the pastor said.
Click here to view additional photos of the timeline.