Columbus artist’s dreadlocked, tattooed icons offer a fresh take on the saints

by | Mar 8, 2023 | Religion

COLUMBUS, Ohio (RNS) — On an unseasonably warm autumn day in Columbus, Ohio, in 2016, Gracie Morbitzer recalls sifting through a box of free items at a cluttered yard sale. Beneath beat-up nail clippers and toilet paper rolls, she salvaged two hand-sized pieces of wood.“Being a very broke new college student, any art supplies I could get my hands on I would take with me,” Morbitzer told Religion News Service. The Columbus College of Art and Design, where she attended, didn’t have many avenues for Morbitzer to express her Catholic faith, so she decided to paint an icon of Jesus on one of the pieces to adorn the cinderblock walls of her dorm room.
“I didn’t know what outfit to put him in,” said Morbitzer. “So I just left him in a white T-shirt for a few days. But the longer that I sat with that the more I realized how cool that really was, just being able to see him wearing something that the people around you are wearing.”
Soon, Morbitzer had transformed the second piece of wood into a modernized rendering of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Those two pieces became the first of well over 100 modern saints Morbitzer has painted since. After …

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