Jackie Lau, is an artist and is also the MSI Lay Associate from Hong Kong. This year being dedicated to St. Joseph, she organised painting exhibition in Hong Kong. At length she shares with us her approach to religious paintings and her spiritual experience.
I adopt an artistic approach to express the life and work of St. Joseph and other saints who have the shadow of a loving father. This year marks the 20th anniversary of my embarking on the road of religious art.
When Pope Francis promulgated the Apostolic Letter “With a Father’s Heart” (Patris Corde), I immediately read it and was deeply moved. Suddenly, there seemed to be a voice deep in my heart saying to me: “Take up your paint brush and paint. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, I responded to the call of the “Year of Saint Joseph” and started my creative work on the feast day of the Lord’s Baptism on 10 January 2021. Before painting, I prayed to the Holy Spirit to help me, guide me, and grant me the trust to rely on God. With God’s merciful love, I have had endless source of creative inspirations which moved me to become God’s painting brush.
Inspiration does not fall from the sky. I find the contents of the paintings in the Bible. I read the Apostolic Letter “With a Father’s Heart” over and over again and having continuously meditated, reflected, listened, appreciated, praised and loved, I began to paint.
I am so blessed that I could organize an exhibition for all Hong Kong people where my art could be presented. The theme of the exhibition is “With a Father’s Heart”. This painting exhibition is being held till November 2021. It attracts many visitors and the paintings help them to deepen their understanding of the different aspects of St. Joseph’s holiness.
Time constraint and lack of physical strength affected my health. I am not as strong as before, neither as energetic as before. With the complicated and trivial administrative work of the exhibition during the creation process, I really could not deal with everything all by myself. Fortunately, under the good care of God, through the intercession of Saint Joseph, many things could be settled easily.
Since the solo painting exhibition, “I thirst! Desire of Mother Teresa” in 2016, I have never stopped to be “God’s painting brush” in the past five years and have continued to fulfil the mission as an “art missionary.” Last year, I intended to hold an art exhibition to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of Chiara Lubich, the foundress of the Focolare Movement, but due to the pandemic, it did not materialize. Whenever I finish the painting of a saint, I say, “May God accept my work of charity, done for the suffering brothers and sisters.”
While painting, I had to take care not only of the planning of the exhibition, but also the on-the-job training. Coupled with my critical illness, I could not do everything perfectly. I needed to let go of the pursuit of perfection, humbly accepting my own shortcomings, and entrusting all to God, for only God is perfect. The year 2021 happens to be the 20th anniversary of my embarking on the road of art. The moment of my first solo painting exhibition 20 years ago is still vivid in my mind. I cannot believe that 20 years later “I am still here”. The twenty years of deep affection of art is mixed with joy and sorrow, hardships and successes which are all beyond words could describe. It is not easy to embark on the road of art; it is a very lonely journey. And yet, I am not afraid! God is with me. “This is the greatest love a man can show, that he should lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn 15:13)
In 1996, I went on a pilgrimage to The Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Paris, France and one of the display boards in the church caught my attention. The display board introduced a Saint of China, Saint John-Gabriel Perboyre, who had just been canonized. How come, French introduce Saint John-Gabriel Perboyre who was French missionary in China? It would be great if Hong Kong Christians be acquainted with the virtues of this saint. I kept this voice in my heart for five years. In 2000, Pope Saint John Paul II canonized 120 martyrs of China. Then I suddenly remembered the first Saint of China, Saint John-Gabriel Perboyre. How could I introduce these 120 martyr saints of China to the Christians?
Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, thanks to the support of Rev. Dominic Chan Chi-ming, V.G., in 2001, the first solo painting exhibition “Martyr-Saints of China” was held in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, expressing 120 martyr saints of China in artistic form. The exhibition attracted many Christians to visit and learn about the virtues of these saints. Ever since, I have embarked on the road of art as my mission – art missionary. I am deeply grateful for the love of each one of you to me. I am very grateful to those friends who have assisted and funded my art exhibitions, over the past 20 years, especially each member of the religious community that has accompanied me in my life. I am also grateful to the seminarians who have helped me to face my sufferings. Without your love, how would I be able to lead a rich life?
Finally, thank God for His wise arrangements and loving care. Without His great love, I can do nothing.
Jackie Lau, MSI Lay Associate