Guidelines for Commissioning, Purchasing or Accepting Donations
of Religious Art for the Worship Space
PDF Printable Version
(Insert in Tab R of Handbook for Parish Pastoral Leadership)
- Read Built of Living Stones (BLS) (Guidelines of the National Conference
of Catholic Bishops), Chapter Three, on religious and liturgical art.
- Ensure that new artwork is consistent with church architecture.
- Ensure that new artwork complements, not overwhelms or detracts from the liturgical
- Be aware that there is a distinction between religious art and fine art; personal
taste and religious/liturgical art values (see BLS).
- Ensure that the parish is committed to equitable treatment of artists.
- Do not expect artists to do work for free in the design stage.
- Be prepared to pay for work/design as well as finished art piece.
When purchasing an existing piece of art, be cautious of catalog art "The integrity and
energy of a piece of art, produced individually by the labor of an artist, is always to be preferred
above objects that are mass-produced. (BLS, 147).
- When considering the acceptance of donations of religious art, be clear that the
art must meet the criteria for religious/liturgical art as found in Built of Living Stones.
- Publish a parish policy regarding art donations.
- Be wary of donations with "strings attached."
- Make it clear that once art donations are accepted, they become the property of
the parish to be used as the parish determines.
- If a donation of artwork appears to be of historic value, contact the Commission
for Historic/Artistic Patrimony (505) 983-3811. They will be able to offer guidance regarding
the restoration, display, protection, and registration of historic art pieces for the Archdiocese
of Santa Fe.
- Call the Office of Worship with questions, help in choosing religious/liturgical
art for the worship space, sample artist contracts, a list of recommended artists, architects
and liturgical design consultants. (831-8194)
Parish Process for Commissioning Religious/Liturgical Art
- Form a parish liturgical art review committee that includes the pastor, the donor (if there
is one), and artistically and liturgically knowledgeable parishioners. Ask them to read Built
of Living Stones, especially Chapter Three.
- Develop a list of candidates.
- Consider local and regional artists.
- Contact the Office of Worship for recommendations (831-8194).
- Look at artwork in liturgical publications (Environment & Art Newsletter, Ministry
and Liturgy, Faith and Form, available for viewing at the Archdiocesan Office of Worship (831-8194).
- Ask for recommendations from your church architect.
- Visit local parishes who have recently commissioned liturgical art.
- Send out letters to potential candidates requesting resumes, brochures, portfolios, references,
- Review resumés, portfolios, references, etc. Visit churches where their artwork is
- Narrow down choices and set-up interviews/presentations.
- Interview and ask for presentation from selected candidates. Consider qualifications, spirituality/theology,
artwork, references, "fit" with your parish.
- Select artist and sign contract/letter of agreement.
- Make sure contract indicates what will be paid, when, and what will be done if the committee
rejects artwork in the design process.
- Secure the right to graphic reproduction of the artwork for parish use.
- Artist begins design process.
- Artist visits parish and meets with liturgical art review committee; participates in a
- Artist seeks to clearly understand parish culture, needs, budget, timeline.
- Review and approve, modify, reject, artists model/sketch/rendering/maquette of commissioned
- Repeat previous step as many times as needed.
- Bless and install artwork in worship space (see Book of Blessings)