“The art of this church has been the largest and most important commission given to me in the 30 years that I have been pioneering art in Texas.”
On December 7, 1958, the Dallas Morning News published the above quote by Octavio Medellin in reference to his commission at the Saint Bernard of Clairvaux Catholic Church, soon to open at 1404 Old Gate Lane in Dallas. The artist was commissioned to design two large murals on opposite sides of the church’s interior depicting the fourteen Stations of the Cross, each measuring eighty-seven feet in length and five feet in height. In collaboration with artist, Michael Kozlowski, Medellin began preliminary designs for the murals in the summer of 1957. For eight months the artists worked to create the large murals with small glass tiles. Together, the two artists hand cut the small smalti (sing. smalto), which are specialized mosaic tesserae made from richly colored glass. The glass was designed by specification and imported from Murano, Italy.
Today, the preliminary drawings for these murals are housed in Bywaters Special Collections. In 1989, Octavio Medellin began donating his personal papers and works on paper to Bywaters Special Collections. This initial donation established the Octavio Medellin Collection. He continued donations, and in 1996 he gave his twelve large-format drawings, which were preliminary designs for the murals. The drawings had been tightly rolled for many years. To safely unroll the drawings and repair any damages that may have occurred over time, these works were sent to Carrabba Conservation, Inc. in Austin. Following conservation, the drawings were scanned and uploaded to the Octavio Medellin Art Work and Papers site in SMU Libraries Digital Collections: https://www.smu.edu/libraries/digitalcollections/med
On the Hamon blog in April, conservator, Cheryl Carrabba, will explain the conservation process for these drawings.
Blog post: Ellen Buie Niewyk, Curator, Bywaters Special Collections.
Image: Photograph, Octavio Medellin and Michal Kozlowski, 8th Station of the Cross, Tesserae on Paper, Pre-Installation, Stations of the Cross Mosaic Murals, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux Catholic Church, Dallas, Texas, 1958, at http://digitalcollections.smu.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/med/id/4381/rec/47
Courtesy of Octavio Medellin Artwork and Papers, Bywaters Special Collections, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University.