The Biennial Nationwide Juried Catholic Arts Competition and Exhibition was established in 2001 by the late Brother Nathan Cochran, O.S.B. His untiring pursuit to cultivate and revive the Sacred Arts was the catalyst for the creation of this Competition and Exhibition. Brother Nathan wanted to give artists who engage Catholic subject matter an opportunity to dialogue with the Church and pastors in the hope of creating new, original artworks for churches and liturgical spaces. For the third Competition and Exhibition, famed British art historian Sister Wendy Beckett served as judge. She praised Brother Nathan’s endeavors, noting that, “Artists often come to understand their faith by the actual creation of artworks. We need these artworks, these attempts by artists known or unknown, to share with us their understanding of what it means to be a Christian. Would that there were hundreds of Brother Nathans in all countries!”
Since its inception, the Competition and Exhibition has received national attention and has blossomed with global interest, spurring submissions and artworks for exhibition from South America to all across Europe. The competition has worked to foster a relationship between artists working in the Catholic Arts.
World-renowned and acclaimed jurors working in the areas of sacred art and art history have brought their expertise to the Competition and Exhibition. Past jurors include: Dr. Frima Fox Hofrichter, an art historian specializing in Baroque and Rococo; Duncan G. Stroik, an architect and professor working in classical and sacred architecture; Sr. Wendy Beckett, an art historian and BBC personality; Dr. John T. Spike, an expert in Renaissance and Baroque art who directs and curates the Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William and Mary; Janet McKenzie, an artist working in sacred art; Dr. Denis R. McNamara, an architectural historian specializing in the theology of liturgical art at the Liturgical Institute at the University of Saint Mary on the Lake, Mundelein and Dr. Elizabeth Lev, an American-born art historian who specializes in Christian art and architecture, Baroque painting and sculpture, and High Renaissance art.