Mike Aquilina

Portrait of the Artist

Friday September 26th 2008, 3:02 am

If you’ve seen the reviews of my book Signs and Mysteries: Revealing Ancient Christian Symbols, you know by now that it’s abundantly and beautifully illustrated by Lea Marie Ravotti.

Raised in an atheist home in communist Czechoslovakia, Lea studied in Prague and began her career there. She has had shows on both sides of the Atlantic. I’m proud to have my name associated with hers.

Lea is herself a sign and mystery — quiet and self-effacing — though she reveals a bit in an interview in the October 5 edition of Our Sunday Visitor newspaper. Content’s only visible to those who subscribe — so start your subscription with this issue! Lea talks about her conversion from atheism, her art, and the techniques of the early Christian artists. Contrasting ancient Christian art with medieval illumination, she says …

In contrast, the paintings in the catacombs seem to be hastily painted, modest, sketchy and lacking details. You don’t have the perfect execution or range of colors that people expect from artwork. But do not be mistaken. There is something more. Every genuine artistic intuition goes beyond what the senses perceive, reaching beneath reality’s surface. The poor quality contrasts with the richness of the content, giving vibrancy to the early Christian artwork. Early Christian artists may [have drawn] simply, but they leave profound messages accompanied by symbols. They rejected the ideals of artistic perfection and sophisticated beauty. Communication is valued above artistic refinement.

Her conversion story is quite moving. So subscribe now. And while you’re at OSV, pay a visit to the awesome multimedia tour of our book.