Meet Luke, the Celtic Ox

TITUSVILLE, N. J. – Come meet Luke, the Celtic Ox, and hear local artist-chaplain Terry Galvin Anderson discuss the artistic and religious inspirations behind the life-sized bovine statue she painted, now “prancing” on the sloping front lawn of the Titusville United Methodist Church, as part of Hopewell Valley’s current “stampede” of 68 oxen, each a unique artistic homage to this area’s agrarian past. This Meet-the-Artist NIght will be held inside the fellowship hall of the Titusville church’s Education Building on Wednesday, October 8, starting at 7 p.m. Until mid-October, Luke will “graze” alongside scenic River Road (Route 29) where it intersects with Church Road in still-rural Titusville.

Luke and ArtistLuke, the Celtic Ox, incorporates a host of symbols from the Book of Kells, an intricate, gilded Celtic masterwork of illuminated manuscript containing the Four Gospels of the Bible’s New Testament, believed to have been created in either medieval Britain or Ireland around 800 A. D.

This modern-day interpretation, Anderson says, incorporates traditional and contemporary illumination techniques and symbols, such as the Celtic spiral on Luke’s forehead and curving triskeles (three-pronged emblems) on the bovine’s shoulder blades. In Celtic art, the ox, a gentle beast of burden, serves as an important symbol of strength and sovereignty. The statue is named after St. Luke, one of the New Testament’s Four Evangelists, often depicted as a winged ox or bull, a figure of Christian sacrifice, service and strength.

“My goal was to bring to life the joy of this great evangelist, artist, physician and patron of iconography by adapting the Celtic vision of Luke the Ox from the Book of Kells, into the present, in an effort to bring joy and hope to people in the everyday, and to enliven the great Celtic sacred-arts traditions in a way that people of all faiths and traditions might feel inspired,” Anderson says. “It is a joy to see so many people engaging with life, love, friendship, beauty, faith and joyful surprise through the many oxen in the Hopewell Stampede!

“This project led me deeply into my own Celtic heritage, and returned me to the golden age of Celtic illumination, manifested beautifully in the Book of Kells,” says Anderson, who plans to present slides October 8 that depict her own spiritual journey through faith and art, while sharing examples of Eastern icons, Western illuminations, and Celtic art, all “painted prayers in honor of God’s great glory.” She anticipates lively dialogue and shared spiritual growth, she says.

Anderson, of Pennington, is a chaplain, mother, artist, spiritual director, art-workshop instructor for schools, churches, universities and retreat centers, former Ivy League joint pre-med/art-history student, long-time businessperson in the pharmaceutical industry, and ongoing student of theology and medieval religious iconography and illuminated illustration.

“Luke, the Celtic Ox” is part of the public “Art in the Everyday” exhibition of 68 life-sized painted or embellished oxen – celebrating this area’s deep and continuing farming ties – sponsored by the recently formed Hopewell Valley Arts Council and currently on display along roadsides, in farm fields and outside businesses throughout Hopewell Township, N. J. According to the Council’s website (www.hvartscouncil.org), the ox is a “significant animal to Mercer County and Hopewell Valley . . . an icon of the Valley’s agricultural heritage. With a team of oxen still plowing the fields at Howell Living History Farm (in northern Hopewell Township), the ox symbolizes strength and teamwork.”

Titusville United Methodist Church (sites.google.com/site/titusvilleumc/home) is located at 7 Church Road – at the corner of River Road (Route 29) and Church Road – in Titusville. Ample parking available.

All welcome! Fall-themed refreshments. Great fellowship. And a lovely night out October 8. Please come!

For more information, please contact The Rev. John Wesley Morrison, church pastor, at 609/737-2622.