By Richard Meek

The Catholic Commentator  

Spend a few minutes with Kim Lopez and one is immediately struck by her love of the Catholic faith.  

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Artist Kim Lopez is shown holding a painting of the San Damiano cross that St. Francis was praying while receiving the stigmata. Lopez, a native of New Orleans and long-time resident of Baton Rouge, painted the cross for the John Paul II house at Christ the King Church and Catholic Center and also for Holy Rosary Church in St. Amant. Pictured on these two pages are examples of her stunning paintings.  Photos submitted by Kim Lopez. 

 

Take some time looking at the artwork of the Baton Rouge resident and one has a glimpse into her heart, one that overflows with love, love of family, love of faith and a genuine appreciation of her life.  

“I don’t know how people live without faith,” said Lopez, a native of New Orleans and a cradle Catholic. “When you’re in the dumps, where do you go?”  

Lopez is one of those rare individuals who has been able to share her love of Christ from her heart to the canvas. Since retiring from a Baton Rouge engineering firm several years ago, Lopez has turned her attention to painting religious art. And the results are stunning.  

Step into the new John Paul II house that is managed by Christ the King Catholic Center in Baton Rouge and one is welcomed by a stunning painting of the San Damiano cross that St. Francis was praying when he got his stigmata.  

Through art, the piece tells the story of the crucifixion and the risen Christ. The image is of the risen Christ, and all who were present at the foot of the cross, mourning their loss. Above the cross angels are shown singing glory. 

Also in the painting are the temple guard, Longinus and the crow who crowed three times the night of the Last Supper.  

“Kim is incredibly talented with many gifts,” Father Merrick said. “Her sacred art  reflects her deep love of the Lord and her Catholic Faith. Each piece she produces is a gift of beauty and love from the Lord through her heart and hands.”  

A visit to Holy Rosary Church in St. Amant and one is greeted by even more of her artwork. In fact, she has painted at least 10 pieces for Holy Rosary pastor Father Josh Johnson, including one of the Sacred Heart for every room in his rectory.  

“I have always had a devotion to the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary and the first pieces that Kim painted for me were original images of the Sacred Hearts,” Father Johnson said, adding that Lopez “has been walking with me through her gift of art ever since I was ordained a priest in 2014.” 

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“When I moved into my new rectory (at Holy Rosary), I wanted my entire rectory to feel like a place that was conducive for prayer.” 

Father Jonson said Lopez created multiple pieces for him for the rectory so that whatever room he is in he can experience intimacy with Jesus.  

“I’ve always had a deep faith and I wanted to do something,” said Lopez, who had dabbled in art in her younger years and had been painting pieces more appealing to young people while her two children, including her son Jeremy, who is a seminarian, were being raised.  

Evidence of her work is displayed through her house, which she shares with her husband, located in the lakes area of Baton Rouge.  

Her first foray into religious art came abut 13 years ago when her family moved to Christ the King. By that time, her two children were old enough to allow Lopez freedom to spread her artistic wings.  

“I wanted to give back and felt like I wanted to give something to the priests (at CTK) to remember the parish by when they left,” Lopez said.  

She would ask the priest to “come pray about the image” or think about the image he might want.  

Painting religious art allows Lopez the opportunity to express what she wants to relay to people and to evoke emotions.  

“And maybe tap into something just like you would verbally, something nonverbally,” she said. “Music does it, art does it. That can change somebody.”  

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Her artwork is also an opportunity for evangelization, explaining that a person might be on the fence regarding his or her faith but in “every little piece of work, you might see (something) supporting their faith, a belief so strong that that’s what is driving them.  

“And sooner or later it’s going to drill down into somebody like, ‘I need to start paying attention to that a little more in my own life.’ ” 

“Just like with (the crucifix), in every piece of art I’ve done I’ve gained knowledge,” Lopez added. “The people that are praying about it, they have insight and they have passed that onto me.  

“And I would have never understood what was going on with that crucifix of San Domino. It tells the whole crucifixion right there.”  

Lopez, one of six children, was first introduced to the art world at the youthful age of four, when her mother sent her to Delgado Community College in New Orleans for an art class. She said a “really nice husband and wife” were her instructors.  

Lopez said she was thrilled when a collage she painted was published in the local newspaper. Her mom even saved the clipping, which Lopez was grateful for, especially since her older sisters were regularly in the newspaper for their exploits on the tennis court.  

“Our family is very artistic,” Lopez said, adding that her older sisters also dabble in art, particularly modern art. 

Shy by nature, Lopez said she is uncomfortable at Mass or even playing the piano, another of her talents, in front of people because she gets “very nervous.”  

“So sometimes I wonder why God gave me these talents,” she said with a smile. “I think that’s probably why I like art and music so much.”  

Although she does not have a count on the number of pieces she has painted, Lopez, who has given away most of her artwork to friends and family, is eagerly looking forward to taking on new artistic challenges. She is hoping to help with the artwork that will go into the new chapel at the John Paul II house, as well as assisting in other areas of the diocese.  

“If I’m touched by something I just want to be able to give,” she said, processing in her mind future possibilities.  

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