|Descent from the Cross|
The artist, image of God the Creator
None can sense more deeply than you artists, ingenious creators of beauty that you are, something of the pathos with which God at the dawn of creation looked upon the work of his hands. A glimmer of that feeling has shone so often in your eyes when—like the artists of every age—captivated by the hidden power of sounds and words, colors and shapes, you have admired the work of your inspiration, sensing in it some echo of the mystery of creation with which God, the sole creator of all things, has wished in some way to associate you. (St. John Paul Letter to Artists, 1999)
ROXOLANA LUCZAKOWSKY ARMSTRONG was born in Stanislaviv Ukraine in 1938. Her family, victims of Soviet persecution, fled to the West in 1945 to settle eventually in Philadelphia in 1950. Her art education started with study under renowned Ukrainian painter Pietro Mehyk, and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine arts in Philadelphia. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and an active member in the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. Roxolana, along with her teaching commitments, works at church decoration, book illustration, icons, as well as architectural and landscape painting. Her artistic endeavors may be seen both in museums and private collections on both sides of the Atlantic.
In 1964 Roxolana moved to Malaga, Spain, with her husband, the American sculptor, Hamilton Reed Armstrong, where they proceeded with their professional careers while participating in Spanish artistic and social life.
At this time Roxolana while working independently in the techniques of classic mosaic and stained glass stumbled through the use of transparent polymer resins on her own vision of a transparent, luminous three dimensional mosaic. These creations under the name of "Crystal Art" may be found in homes, churches, and public buildings, both in Europe and America.
Roxolana has continued through the years drawing and painting in oil, acrylic, and watercolor, exhibiting in group and individual shows on both sides of the Atlantic. Her work is found in the Marian Center of Studies, Cincinnati, Ohio; the John Paul II Center in Washington, D.C., and numerous private collections around the world. She lives in Front Royal, Va., with her husband.
For Roxolana, painting religiously inspired images is a form of prayer: "I try to put myself in the scene of these historical events to grasp their meaning. It is what St. Ignatius of Loyola called, Compositio loci. In this painting, "Descent from the Cross," there are echoes of the "Pietas" of past artists, but not consciously copied."
In her "Holy Saturday," she says that the painting came as a "personal mystical experience. It involves the special privilege of trust that the Mother of Jesus was given in that dark moment while her son was in the tomb. It is meant to invite the viewer to contemplation of the Passion and personal trust."
In 1983 Roxolana did a series of water colors depicting the horrors of the enforced famine.
for the 50th anniversary of the forced starvation of 7,000,000 Ukrainians by the Soviet Regime in 1933. Her simple images but use of colors make us feel the cold and deprivation of her people.