Etsuro SOTOO, sculptor at the Sagrada Familia, talks about his work and Gaudí's legacy to posterity
Presented by Crossroads Cultural Center and Columbia Catholic Ministry
Co-Sponsored by the Department of Visual Arts at Fordham University
The idea of this “Face to Face” series is simply to create occasions for us to encounter men and women whose life and work we find striking and fascinating, and to ask them to share with us their experience. Words like “encounter” and “fascination” seem especially appropriate in the case of Etsuro Sotoo, since all of his life and work have been marked by his encounter with another man, the great Spanish architect Antoni Gaudì. For over 30 years Mr. Sotoo, Japanese by birth, has been working as a sculptor on Gaudì’s unfinished masterpiece, the basilica of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain. The encounter with Gaudì has transformed not only Etsuro Sotoo's art, but all of his life, and has been decisive in his conversion to Catholicism. In an age when it is assumed that artistic creation is just a reflection of the artist's genius, it is remarkable to meet someone who recognizes that great art also involves obedience: both obedience to the vision of another man, but more deeply obedience to one's original experience of beauty, which points to the Mystery of God. In fact, this obedience and the fascination with the Mystery of God were some of the deepest characteristics of Gaudì himself, who always believed that the designs of nature are the masterworks of the Creator, and that his own life's mission was to produce beautiful creations that incorporated nature's themes and glorified God's work. He liked to say that men create nothing, but can make their contribution by observing nature in order to capture a sparkle of the beauty of God. This insight applies to all of us: we all participate in the Mystery of creation by going through our daily work, if only we live the same openness to the presence of the Mystery that Gaudì witnessed to us.