Caricature As Ministry

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

— Mt 6:22-23 (NRSV)

The Magic Of Caricature …

Caricature is cool!

People love it — especially the spectators. They love commenting and critiquing.

“That doesn’t look like her!

“Sure it does. It looks just like her.”

“The nose is too big. The ears are too small. The forehead is too large.”

“It’s called exaggeration! Caricature is supposed to have some exaggeration!”

And so it goes. But when you draw a caricature, inevitably, you’re going to draw a crowd. People want to see “the magic”!

The Nature of Caricature …

As an art form, caricature reduces a subject to the base elements of shape, size, and color. Those are the artist’s tools. See the shape. Understand relationships between objects (hair, eyes, nose, mouth, etc.) and “adjust” (exaggerate) those relationships. And, of course, use color (a relatively new resource) to move the eyes of the audience around the canvas.

Through clever craft and empathetic exaggeration, the caricature artist gently reveals secrets heretofore unknown to the subject. He then puts those long hidden secrets in plain view for the whole world to see — or at least, the small group standing around as he works.

What is the end purpose for all of this? Some say it is entertainment, and they would be right. By far, most caricature artists recognize the entertainment value in the work they do. But what if caricature was more than that? What if caricature could be used in ministry to touch souls?

Let’s talk!

The Work Of Ministry …

The cartoon at the top of this page is one example of how that might happen.

The subject of our caricature is a real person. His name is Fr. Andrew Trapp. He is an experienced priest serving as pastor of a large parish (St. Peter’s) in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. The composition actually contains two caricatures of the same man.

Though it is fiction, intended for humor, it is based on a real story. When Fr. Trapp was a young priest, his hobby was poker, which he learned while he was a student at Clemson University (thus the orange jacket). With his bishop’s permission, he actually competed in a nationally televised poker contest. He won $100,000 and played for the grand prize (a million dollars), which he did not win.

And, oh yeah! Fr. Trapp wore his priest’s attire, talked to the world on TV about being a priest, and donated his winnings to the Church!

There are no cards in our cartoon. The cartoon is not about poker. It’s about a priest who is being scrutinized by a hand with a digital pencil. We can see a drawing emerging on the “medallion,” which probably represents some kind of digital drawing pad.

Meanwhile, the kind-faced priest is peeking at the caricature on the medallion. It looks like him, but not exactly. And furthermore, he has a special request.

“Give me a poker face, please.”

The artists draws out the word “please” to put emphasis on it, as if to say that, while Fr. Trapp’s vocation leaves little time for poker these days, he is still playing a “high stakes game.” His enemy is sin and evil, and if he ever needed a poker face in his life, it is now.

In the caricature, the hand with the digital pencil protruding onto the canvas, suggests some other power at work in the larger story. It is a bit reminiscent of “The Creation Of Adam,” a fresco by Italian artist Michelangelo. Of course, our simple caricature is in no way to be compared to Michelangelo’s grand work, but it does beckon the viewer to understand that the art which is our life has a creator.

The Caption …

Fr. Trapp’s life has meaning. Your life has meaning too.

The caricature above does not explain all this. You either get it or you don’t. But even if you don’t get it, it’s still fun for the viewer (especially if he/she knows Fr. Trapp), to look at the caricatures and critique them.

And that’s okay with us. But hopefully, everyone is drawn to the real “gag line” at the bottom of the page.

It identifies Fr. Trapp for you. And it asks you to pray for him. As an extension of that, it subtly asks you to pray for the priests in your parish and diocese too.

That’s caricature performed as ministry!

Our Story …

Caricature can be pleasant. It can be painful, although as ministry, we seek to do no harm as we work.

Pray today for Fr. Andrew Trapp. Pray that God gives him that “poker face” as he ministers to the people of St. Peter’s in Beaufort SC.

Pray also for your priests and for priests everywhere around the world.

That’s our story, and we’re sticking to it.

Special Request …

You can help us reach others with caricature as a ministry.

Use the little button below to LIKE this post. Leave a COMMENT too, if you have time.

FOLLOW US on this blog and on social media too.

And tell your friends about what we’re doing here. Caricature is cool! It’s fun! And it can make an impact in a world caught up in lots of problems!

Vivat Jesus!

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