by Cori Hilsgen
Br. Simon-Hoa Phan recently debuted his first solo exhibition on monastery life at St. John’s University.
Phan has been a monk at St. John’s Abbey for 22 years. He is a professor for the College of St. Benedict’s and St. John’s University’s art department who has trained to make documentary films.
Through his exhibit he offers a visual artist’s point of view of life at St. John’s through images, movement and sounds.
His exhibition, “Contuitus: A View from the Monastery,” is a series of videos and video installations that features eight short videos, ranging from two to 12 minutes each, screens which show Phan’s point of view and his reflections on monastic life.
At the exhibit, Phan projects various speeds of video on transparent voile, the floor, the wall, on a TV monitor and more.
He says lately his creative works have been focusing on his life as a Benedictine monk – as a Christian living out his calling in a specific manner of life. This exhibit is based on his self-examinations and reflections.
In a recent press release, Phan said he wanted to show monastic life is an ordinary life with extraordinary grace.
Director of Abbey Communications and Marketing Br. Paul-Vincent Niebauer said Phan not only communicates through his art but he loves monastic life and monastic community, even though it’s not perfect. Those are the “glimpses” Phan’s exhibit offers viewers.
Niebauer said he compares the monastic life to a parent-child or married-couple relationship which is constantly changing. During the course of those years, many trials, triumphs and joys are experienced.
The exhibit opened Feb. 3 and will run for six weeks at Alice R. Rogers and Target Galleries on the SJU campus. Phan hosted an open-house reception Feb. 7 and hopes to host two other talks that would allow CSB/SJU students to earn a Fine Arts Experience credit for viewing the exhibition.