Catholic teen seeks to inspire neighborhood with Marian sidewalk art

Denver Newsroom, May 7, 2020 / 06:01 pm (CNA).- A young Catholic artist has drawn an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary on her parents’ driveway bringing religious art to her local community during the quarantine.

The Diocese of Fargo posted on Facebook May 4 an image of Our Lady of Lourdes drawn by Maria Loh, a 17-year old who grew up in Fargo. She said it was an enjoyable experience to share her faith and art with her neighborhood.

“Being able to interact with people when they walked by was very moving in a way because a lot of people have never really seen sidewalk art done like that locally. So being able to share in that kind of experience, it was very, very good,” she told CNA.

Loh has recently been inspired by chalk art and pastels, which, she said, have vibrant and beautiful colors. She has drawn on the sidewalks a few times, including two images of Mary – Madonna of the Lillies and the Pieta by William Adolphe-Bouguereau.

Her most recent chalk drawing was Our Lady of Lourdes by Hector Garrido – an image she had seen as a magnet on her grandparents’ refrigerator growing up. The picture has always been an inspiration, she said, noting that she decided to replicate it after Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine in France had temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I heard that the shrine had been temporarily closed off to the public, and I remember … thinking that’s really sad because especially in this time, we’re really looking for healing in more ways than one, like physically and mentally and spiritually,” she said.

“It really felt like people wouldn’t be able to go to experience that. So I felt like drawing this image of Our Lady of Lourdes would be a good way to remind people that Our Lady is still with us even if we can’t go to her shrine.”

Loh, the oldest of five, has been involved with art projects and drawing for her entire life. She said, growing up in a Catholic family, she has been inspired by her faith and the religious art in churches.

“I see our faith as so precious… Especially in the form of the Eucharist – the actual body and blood of Christ, I’ve seen that we are very blessed to have that in our faith. It’s something that has impacted a lot of my life growing up,” she said.

While she was working on the piece, Loh said, a majority of passersby did not know who the lady in the image was. She expressed hope that the picture would help remind people of Mary and the beauty of the Church, which, she said, is a powerful attraction to the faith.

“One thing that I hope this kind of art and image will evoke is a desire to come to know who Mary is and how rich our faith is. … All the beautiful art that can be seen in Catholic churches, especially like in Rome, there’s almost a transcendental beauty to them that draws people into the faith to come to know things that they’ve never dreamed of before,” she said.

As Loh finishes her junior year of high school, she expressed the possibility of art school after graduation, but, while she is still uncertain of the future, said art will not be dropped anytime soon.

“I can definitely see [art school] being a possibility. I’ll have to spend some time, especially with God trying to figure out what he wants me to do. But, I don’t think art is going out of my life anytime soon,” she said.

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