Linda McCray is an artist based in Montana.
Linda McCray is a creator of abstract spiritual original paintings. She leads retreats on art as prayer, and on praying through art. She is an art-and-environment designer, art consultant for sacred space, adjunct art professor, and advocate for contemporary art in worship. Her passion in painting is translating the Gospel and sacred realities into contemporary abstract art to draw today’s believers into a deeper relationship with God.
“Your passion of translating the Gospel into abstract spiritual paintings indeed invites new believers into relationship with God.” —George Leo Thomas, Bishop of Helena
“Linda’s art fires the imagination and creates the environment for a deeper encounter with the real presence of Christ.” —Fr. Ed Hislop, Pastor, Blessed Trinity Catholic Community, Missoula, Montana
McCray creates The Liturgical Artists Directory, and several of her articles have been published by Georgetown Center for Liturgy on their online resource and the magazine Ministry and Liturgy. Linda lectures ecumenically on sacred art for art museums, universities, conferences and churches---for example, Form/Reform: The National Conference on Environment and Art for Catholic Worship; The University of Dallas Ministry Conferences; and the Madden Museum of Art-Denver. She is dedicated to her goal of helping bridge the gap between mainstream contemporary art and sacred art.
“Linda McCray steps into the breach that exists between contemporary art and the faith community with her paintings. McCray uses light, color, and texture in her powerful, abstract compositions to create emotionally charged images which afford the faithful instruction, the seeker time for reflection, and the pilgrim a place of refuge.” —H. Rafael Chacón, Ph.D., Professor of Art History and Criticism, the University of Montana
Adjunct Art Professor McCray teaches online Art Appreciation: Sacred and Secular Perspectives for the University of Mary and Art and Spirit: The Sacred and the Secular for Loyola University Chicago, Institute of Pastoral Studies. She creates custom art as prayer retreats and praying through art worship services. Her genuine understanding of art history, contemporary art and all media in combination with her vast connections with artists are the foundation of her sacred art consulting. She puts her knowledge into practice while creating art-and-environment designs for faith communities and religious events.
She is a member of Christians in the Visual Arts, Association of Consultants for Liturgical Space, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Associate, and Society for the Arts in Religion and Theological Studies. Linda graduated from The University of Montana with a Master of Fine Arts in Painting and Drawing; cum laude from Washington State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts; Diocese of Helena Program for Lay Ministers, a 12 credit Pastoral Ministry course through Carroll College; and Benedictine Spiritual Formation Program, Benet Hill Monastery with a certificate in spiritual direction.
I translate sacred realities into abstract art that goes beyond words and nourish the spirit. There are a number of ways to translate transcendent reality into paint. To form visible signs of invisible grace, I use abstraction which—so powerfully through color, line, and texture—speaks directly to the heart. My paintings communicate heart to heart. I layer my paintings with symbolism, such as sand from Jerusalem. The torn-like edges symbolize that they are a part of something much greater. While these paintings have specific religious meaning to me, I hope they invite you to reflect on spiritual realities dear to your heart.
My art direction is connected to the long tradition of artists who have turned to a world we cannot see except through faith. I could not ask for a richer history to follow. The Spirit has motivated art making over time in all cultures. Today, mainstream contemporary art and sacred art are worlds apart. As G.K. Chesterton wrote, “In the beginning there was art for God’s sake, then in the Renaissance there was art for man’s sake. Beginning with Impressionism there was art for art’s sake. Now, unfortunately, we have no art for God’s sake.” I strive to bring back art for God’s sake.
Images in Slide Show
1. To Form Anew XV. While painting To Form Anew XV, I was reflecting on the light, warmth and peace of the Divine Presence. acrylic & sand from Jerusalem on floating wood panel, 2’ x 2’
2. Dust to Dust. "Dust thou art, and to dust thou wilt return," Genesis 3:19. Our Lenten journeys are about mortality and transformation. It is a time of spiritual renewal and drawing closer to Jesus, the center of Christian life. As Christ emptied Himself to serve us, we must empty ourselves to serve Him. I believe we must die to self to create a void in our hearts that only the Holy Spirit can fill. In a universal theological sense, this painting is about kenosis, the emptiness that precedes grace. To capture the feeling of the voids depth, I use the color blue and the old masters' use of glazes. The abstract element of the color purple is symbolic of Lent and penance. I created the black paint with ashes, which in turn symbolizes dying to old sinful ways in hopes of a spiritual rebirth centered on God. acrylic, ash & sand from Jerusalem on floating wood panel, 6’ x 9.5'
3. Light from Light. The genesis for this painting was closing my eyes and praying while dropping a shredded bless palm to symbolize resurrection. I responded to the way the blessed palm graced the wood panel to further the message. Red paint near the palm symbolizes death and a ray of grace from above conveys the Holy Spirit coming to guide us along our way. acrylic, blessed palm & sand from Jerusalem on floating wood panel, 6’ x 9.5
4. Passion to Pentecost. Often old story-telling altarpieces lost panels and were restored with different found sections. In this contemporary altarpiece, I convey Christian beliefs with reverence to its rich history. I symbolized the five wounds of Christ with the abstract element of red drips of paint, resurrection with gold drips upward, and Pentecost with a few white brushstrokes evoking a dove and the color red flaming down from above. The triptych format of three panels is a symbol for the Trinity, which came to be on Pentecost. acrylic & sand from Jerusalem on floating wood panel, 6’ x 9.5'
5. Transfiguration. “The Transfiguration of Jesus. After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.” Matthew 17:1-2 acrylic & sand from Jerusalem on floating wood panel, 2’ x 2
6. Inner Light: Madonna and Child. My goal for this painting is to transcend a traditional Madonna and Child icon to one that conveys the universal theology of God in all. I express our rich history of medieval icons by using their traditional color scheme, juxtaposition of sacred figures and highly textured gold halos. I bring this icon up-to-date with contemporary abstract elements of light, texture and shape, which abound with symbolism. The large gold semicircle and blue color symbolize Mother Mary, and the smaller gold semicircle and red Baby Jesus. These two individuals are portrayed by the holiness of their inner light, rather than facial features. They don't show two specific individuals. They represent all people. I hope my contemporary icon inspires others to see God in mother, child and everyone. acrylic & sand from Jerusalem on floating wood panel, 18” x 24”
7. Always With Us. Jesus said, “I am with you always.” Matthew 28:20. No matter what the earthly storms of life bring us, Jesus is always with us. acrylic & sand from Jerusalem on floating wood panel, 86” x 30”
8. Rejected Stone. “The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone” (Psalm 118:22). The open space created by the rejected stones forms a cross through which we must follow to be transformed from death into life. Through Christ's ultimate rejection and crucifixion, we hope to journey to the Light of salvation. acrylic & sand from Jerusalem on floating wood panel, 1’ x 1’
9. The True Light. “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world” (John 1:9). In this contemporary crèche, notice the guiding light from above, gold nimbus conveying divinity, a full spectrum of colors symbolizing mystery and the true light of Christ shining from the manger below. acrylic & sand from Jerusalem on floating wood panel, 3’ x 6'
10. To Form Anew XXIV. The healing winds of the Holy Spirit can overcome the darkest rough times that we all go through at one time or another. Through it all, we are welcomed into the light of Christ. acrylic & sand from Jerusalem on floating wood panel, 2’ x 5’