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Pennsylvania Artists

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Dorothy Day

20th Century
37 x 18 1/8 x 8 in. (94 x 46 x 20.3 cm)

Charles Wells, American, (1935–2017)

Object Type: SCULPTURE
Creation Place: North America
Medium and Support: Red Oak Relief
Credit Line: Commissioned and Given by Dennis and Judy O'Brien in honor of Br. Daniel Burke's 50th anniversary as a Christian Brother
Accession Number: 96-SC-48
Gallery Label:

As Dorothy Day’s elderly face thrusts forward, I am struck how her determined jaw, her smooth mouth and nose contrast with a deeply gouged skull, roughhewn cheeks, scarred-over eyes.

Three thoughts:

The mystery of the poor. They are Jesus for us; what we do for them, we do for him. Day did not see Jesus in the poor with bodily eyes, but eyes of faith. A blinded oracle, scored eyes of wood speak of deeper sight.

Day saw life with the poor as unsentimental, enfolded in brokenness. Flesh mortified by cold, dirt; ears mortified by screams, noise; eyes mortified by sights of excretion, disease. Grooves and gashes mark solidarity in poverty.

Francis of Assisi suffered terribly from diseased eyes. Day re-embodied Francis’s example, renewing his charism of holy poverty in herself for our
modern cities and farms.

Warm, strong red oak, thus fittingly commemorates a defiant, daring life of love.

S. Joel Garver, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Philosophy
Current Location: Art Museum : Main Hallway

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