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Art and the Church -> Materials for Use in Churches

All Souls - Bottled Memories by Jason Dy

Jason K. Dy, SJ: Bottled Memories

In Loving Memory

by Jason Dy

A key part of this installation was empty bottles that were filled by the visitors of the Arte+Faith exhibition at the Catholic World Youth Days in Madrid (15-21 August, 2011) with memories of their beloved dead using any mementos they would have brought with them. Paper and pen were provided to fill in: In loving memory of _____________.

Next to these bottles stood cast polyresin statues of angels molded from an old and worn-out statue of an angel with broken wings I salvaged from a demolished cemetery in the Philippines. Afterwards it was turned into a housing complex for the poor near our parish. Each statue was covered with envelopes with intentions for the dead.

On a shelf on the wall I put several bottles in loving memory of these following groups:

1. Those unknown to human beings but known to God

2. Victims of child abuse and exploitation

3. Victims of natural calamities (flood, tsunami, earthquake)

4. Victims of war and conflict

5. Victims of famine and sickness

6. Modern-day saints and heroes (John Paul II, Mother Teresa, et al.)

The installation found its origin in the devotional practice of faithful Catholics to remember their departed loved ones, which takes place on November 2 on the feast of All Souls Day. As Catholic believers we believe in the communion of the living and the dead, which means that we pray for each other. For me as a Jesuit priest it indicates that I offer the mass to God as an act of devotion and prayer for both the living and the dead. For me as an artist the installation provided a venue to investigate how this form of art interacts with a Christian devotional practice. It also probed into the potential of employing art in ministry, whereby art does not only display a beautiful form but also becomes an image that opens a window for spiritual encounter and enrichment. I hope the bottled memories provided people with an opportunity for catharsis, a venue for reliving memories and for keeping the legacy of the dead alive.

May we all be comforted by the words of the Irish funeral prayer ‘Longing for One More Day’: ‘When we lose someone we love it seems that time stands still. What moves through us is a silence... a quiet sadness... a longing for one more day... one more word... one more touch. We may not understand why you left this earth so soon or why you left before we were ready to say good-bye, but little by little, we begin to remember not just that you died, but that you lived. And that your life gave us memories too beautiful to forget. We will see you again some day, in a heavenly place where there is no parting. A place where there are no words that mean good-bye.’

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Jason K. Dy, SJ: Bottled Memoriesmixed media, 2010.

Jason K. Dy, SJ (b. 1977, Philippines) was artistically inclined from the time he was young, but it was only when he was in high school that he started to develop his talents by joining art contests, making liturgical designs for communal worship and following art workshops. His art blossomed fully when he joined the Jesuits, who encouraged him to attend art workshops, art classes and conferences, accept book projects (e.g. illustration and lay-out), create logos for institutions, visit exhibitions, participate in art groups and integrate art into his studies in theology. As a priest, he is now not only active in art production but also in art management and pastoral ministry for artists.

Jason Dy has explored various art forms such as drawing and illustration, graphic art, mixed media and collages, photography and digital art, so that he could employ various media to communicate his message. In this way his approach to art has always had a conceptual slant, which was reinforced even more by his philosophical and theological training. Only recently has he been seen as a conceptual artist in his country. Even though there is a strong conceptual tradition in the Philippines, he came to his own conceptual works through the influence of the social realist movement in his country to which most of his artist friends belong. Through them he learned about installation and community-based art. While there is a preference for figurative and realistic art among church people in the Philippines, his bottled memories art project has been well received. For more, see batikbatiknakariktan.blogspot.com.

ArtWay Visual Meditation November 1, 2015