Meet the Artists: Eva Petrič
Eva Petrič's Collective Heart and Safety Blanket appear in the Value of Sanctuary: Building a House Without Walls, now on view in the Cathedral. Collective Heart hangs above the High Altar and was lowered to veil the crucifix for the duration of Lent.
You can follow Eva on Instagram.
What were you thinking about when creating this piece of work? Had you spent any time considering the word “sanctuary”?
I created Collective Heart in 2016 for the high altar of the St. Stephansdom Cathedral in Vienna, and at that time I was thinking mostly about what is worthy to put on a high altar. For me it was/is the heart because the heart is something that all humans have and is the universal symbol of life, of empathy. I decided to call my lace installation, which is based on a real anatomical heart, Collective Heart so that people would be more inclined to see the heart as something capable of joining people together through universal yearning for and capability to give love. My wish was to place empathy onto the high altar so that people could offer their belief in it, and hopefully engage in it more. The heart also symbolizes the inner world of emotions and as such it is the universal Sanctuary for me. It is always with us, enabling us a place of refuge only if we allow ourselves to see and hear this.
My other work, Safety Blanket, which I created for The Value of Sanctuary, was an expression of my interest in the intersection between art and science, specifically the medical world. The Safety Blanket is a memory from childhood that used to give me comfort. At the same time, its definition includes the medical use of providing relief to the human body under extreme conditions.
With both of the pieces I wanted to allude to something concrete and physical, such as an anatomical heart and a blanket, but also open up an immaterial aspect of what the word Sanctuary entails: the inner world of emotions and feelings of safety, and of comfort and vulnerability that the heart and blanket both catalyze. The chosen material of lace for both pieces was deliberate to include the aspect of time that it represents to me. Handmade lace takes a lot of time to produce, which, to me, represents that sanctuary is also something that humans are responsible for creating and sustaining. Lace also represents connection, appearing as webs and implying that sanctuary is a universal, collective ideal that is influenced by all of us. We are all entitled to have sanctuary in our lives, but we also have to join forces in sustaining it and providing it for all of humanity.
What does it mean to you and/or the piece of art to be shown in a place of worship?
For my work to be shown in a place of worship is for me very special and an honor though with it comes a feeling of responsibly. People come to a place of worship much more vulnerable, it is even more so than usual the responsibility of an artist to be aware of and reflect on the vision behind the art piece and the potential associations and feelings that may arise in the viewer on account of it.
What were your first impressions of the Cathedral?
I was in awe of it and wished to be able to exhibit in it someday. I also wished to show Collective Heart piece above the High Altar in this wonderful cathedral because its historic welcome of all religions. It seemed the perfect place for what Collective Heart was trying to express and what it stands for.
What is your favorite unexpected place to view art?
Sacred, religious places and most importantly, places of ritual.
What artists or artworks are you inspired by?
Oh so very many....and the list is always growing. To name a few: Jenny Holzer, Ana Mendieta, Yevs Klein, Leonardo da Vinci. Relics inspire me as well as frescoes, graffiti, and nature itself, which is for me the greatest artist and artistic work to date.
What is your Sanctuary?
My imagination, my inner world.