Gaudi Archives - St. Stephen's University

Legacy. What is a Legacy?

By 2017, Europe No Comments

I’ve been thinking about death a lot, or more accurately what happens to us, to our stories, after death. Our trip to Park Güell and the Sagrada Família has been no exception.

Not knowing anything about Park Güell I was overjoyed to find myself amongst whimsical buildings. I felt as though I had stepped into a Dr. Suess book. Not only was this park aesthetically stunning, but it had been built to be fully functional as well. Antoni Gaudí had fully intended this park to be finished and lived in and it broke my heart a bit that his design wasn’t being fulfilled to its greatest potential. It is an amazing achievement but it felt like something was missing.

From there we headed to the Sagrada Família. Actually being there and seeing it with my own eyes was better than I ever could have imagined. There are so many details that you just don’t see in pictures. The way he uses light through the stained glassed windows to flood the whole auditorium with colour is indescribable.

Sagrada Família

There is a line in a musical that I think about when I think of Gaudí. It goes: “Legacy. What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.” Gaudí’s legacy is not his untimely death or his unfulfilled Park Güell. It is the Sagrada Família, a grand church that is well before his time. The people who have recognized the genius of his design have carried on the construction of the church for over a hundred years. They tell his story, they carry on his legacy. Through them, through the Sagrada Família, he lives.


By 2016, Europe No Comments

Most of us dream of creating or doing something that will be original, inspiring, or change the world. Sadly, not all of us will get that chance. However, that makes it all the more special when you encounter someone or something that has accomplished the unimaginable.
For me, this happened when we experienced the architecture of Antoni Gaudi. Especially la Sagrada Familia. This structure was unlike anything I have ever seen. It was architecture inspired by nature, formed in a way that causes onlookers to question the beauty of buildings they have considered breathtaking in the past. Your gaze is drawn upwards, and curiosity, wonder, and awe are brought to the forefront of your mind. And, in its own way, it inspires others to wonder about a God that could give such a talent to one person.
Encounters such as these are few and far between. Whether it be with art, music, or what have you, it makes you realize that the things we consider “normal” need to be challenged. As well, it causes you to question where true inspiration and creativity come from. I do not have the answers to these, for that is up to you. But I will leave you with this: “God inspires, we only need to let ourselves be guided.” (Gaudi)

big place of refuge

By 2016 No Comments

Our time here in Barcelona has been very quick, it seems like yesterday we landed from London. Yet, soon we leave. Yesterday, we visited Park Güell and the Sagrada Familia, two great monuments designed by Gaudi the famous architect. After crossing the city we scaled what seemed to be 100 flights of steps before arriving at the forest like park which overlooks the city. The park struck me as ancient with its red rocks but its crushed rock paths and rock columns create a semi man-made feel. The trees were somewhat ordered placement but it really did have a forest like feel. The day wore on, spending time talking, pondering, feeling and being in that park and its inspired Gaudi monuments (he also designed the park). The whole park felt like a big place of refuge. Many gathering places, places to perform, places to play, and higher up on the hill there were places for quiet, away from the rustle of people who flocked to the lower section of the park armed with cameras. Amid this experience, I was grateful for the space in the city to be, to stop, and reflect. How am I affected?

Positive Encounters Through Negative Space

By 2014, Europe No Comments

Last year I purchased a film camera in an attempt to expand my hobby of photography and to become intentional about the images I capture on film. Throughout this year I have learnt much about the technical side of photography such as composition and balance, shutter speed and rule of thirds while also learning about my unique style coming through each roll of film. This trip was meant to use those technical skills to explore the underlying emotion of photographs.

My game plan has been to break up my 3 rolls of film between the 9 countries we are visiting resulting in only 8 exposures per country. I have found this approach to be quite frustrating at times. There is so much to see, so much to capture in a tangible memory, how do I possibly choose what is worth my precious negative space?! I don’t want to be just another tourist snapping photos of Pont Du Gard or the statue depicting the Rape of the Sabines. Instead, I want to capture the emotion behind what I am seeing, what I am experiencing. A quote I found in a bookstore in Florence describes my intention perfectly,

“In my photography I have tried to press what I aim to express in all that I do. The photo should hint at things beyond its actual contents the divine reason, as Meister Elkhardt would say, the beauty of an “ugly” face. The essence of things… I want the dignity and the hope that lies beneath to shine through in even the most inconspicuous, the most ordinary, the most humble subjects.” -Ellen Auerbach, 1985

Although my intentional photography seems good in theory I never know what the actual photo will look like until it gets developed. This takes patience and accepting the unknown results of new techniques. This has forced me to slow down even more on my journey through Europe, desiring to capture that perfect expression. What is it about the architectural digging site at the Matisse museum that moves me? What angle do I capture these ancient Florentine cobblestones where so many influential people have walked down? I have thought about the photos I taken from a variety of angles before I even open the shutter and still my hands hesitates, consciously choosing not to burn this image on the negative roll. Why did I not take a photo of the trees in Barcelona that inspired Gaudi in his art? I’m still figuring it out. M.

Adios Barcelona!

By 2011, Europe No Comments

Below is an update from the Europe 2011 crew.

Today we said ‘Adios’ to Barcelona, our one stop in Spain. Since arriving, we have explored a variety of ancient and modern sites, architecture, and art. Susan di Giacomo, an anthropologist who works in Barcelona, guided us through part of the city, starting at Santa Maria del Mar, a jewel in Catalan architecture, and ending at the Catalan Parliament where she gave us a brief history of Catalonia as well as a glimpse into the current tensions in preserving the Catalan identity. Later that day, a group of students went to Omnium Cultural, an organization that is devoted to the practical application of preserving this identity. We had time to explore the city on our own, but for the most part were guided to some of the important sites around Barcelona for their religious, cultural, artistic, and/or political significance.

Our days have brought us to many sacred spaces. Some experienced this sacred space while sitting in Sagrada Familia, looking with wide eyes to the ceiling like a forest canopy carved out of stone, while others experienced it on a long hike to the top of one of the rounded mountains at Montserrat.  For some, it was while wandering in silence around the Barcelona Cathedral observing the ornate architecture and stained glass and others while sitting in the Montserrat Basilica listening to the ethereal voices of the boys’ choir. Some experienced it while exploring the ancient Roman ruins under the streets of Barcelona in the City Historical Museum and others while observing the artistic style of Picasso as it developed throughout his life, or wandering through Park Guell and being surrounded by nature, both in the literal sense as well as its influence in much of the architecture. We have discussed and contemplated the idea of being pilgrims, open to the collective and individual journeys God is calling us to and have been overwhelmed by the opportunity to be on this journey, in the company of good friends, with many laughs and of course good food and drink! There is a general atmosphere of positivity and excitement for what has been and what is in store for us in this journey.

Europe 2011 Leadership Team

Simply Poppies

By 2010, Europe No Comments

I stand inside an ancient cathedral with beautiful architecture and stunning frescos, or in a museum staring at a great and famous work of art known around the world; but I am unaffected. More often than not on this trip so far I have felt relatively apathetic about most of the art and architecture we have seen. There have been a few things that have stood out to me and which I have very much enjoyed or felt changed by, but 80 percent of what we have seen has not stunned me. However, I am realizing that this is okay; that everything does not have to have a great impact on me, that I can go through the trip slowly and subtly affected by things and still come out a better person. And rather than trying to fabricate a certain type of experience or trying to be affected by things that I feel like I should be affected by, allowing Europe and all that is offers touch me when and how it wants to.

I remember being in Carcassonne, a very old, very beautiful fortified city which I felt no connection to whatsoever. I remember our walk into the city and the large field of poppies we passed; hundreds of thousands of brilliantly red poppies. It was at this moment that I understood why great artists painted; I understood why they were inspired. I am writing this blog on the bus. Looking out the window every few words to keep from getting motion sickness. As I look out at the Italian countryside; the mountains, the fields of grapes, olive trees, the magnolia, the tall regal cypress` and the red poppies colouring the otherwise green landscape, I understand again where so many great painters got their inspiration. I understand why van Gogh painted so many cypresses and why Gaudi was so inspired by nature and used it to create such unique architecture. This small and simple realization is of greater value to me than standing in front of a great basilica or in front of  the Roman forum thinking: this used to be the centre of the world. I am looking forward to many more simple realizations or experiences which in turn bring so much joy.


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