By Jeremy Langford, Director of Communications
When Meltem Aktas makes her way down the path from her northside Chicago home to the converted garage that serves as her studio, she is greeted by a sign that reads, Sanctuario. “My studio is my sanctuary,” she explains. “When I begin my work day creating religious icons and art, the sign reminds me that I am about to enter sacred space.”
In this space, Aktas has created a remarkable body of religious art that has earned her and her company, Imago Sacred Images, widespread recognition and commissions from churches and religious orders, most notably the Jesuits. “I have a very personal connection with St. Ignatius, whose faith journey and spiritual wisdom speak to people across time, cultures, and traditions,” she says.
|St. Ignatius by Meltem Aktas|
In 2005, Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Ill., commissioned Aktas to create for its chapel a gallery of Jesuit saints and blessed, including St. Paul Miki, St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, St. Francis Xavier, St. Alberto Hurtado, Rutilio Grande, and, of course, St. Ignatius of Loyola. “I’m so grateful to Fr. Ted Munz for commissioning me and to Fr. Pat McGrath for working with me to complete the gallery,” says Aktas. “Both of these Jesuits appreciate the power of sacred art to draw people into deeper relationship with God. That is the goal of everything I do.”
In early 2006, Loyola University Chicago asked Aktas to serve as chief artist for the renovation of the historic Madonna della Strada chapel. After extensive research, the school’s then president, Fr. Michael Garanzini, SJ, and the director of the Loyola University Museum of Art, Pamela Ambrose, independently determined that Aktas was the best choice for the job. “For me, it was a very special sign that I was meant to work on this project,” recalls Aktas. The project took five years to complete.
||Meltem Aktas, with the Madonna della Strada chapel tabernacle doors|
|Sacred artist Meltem Aktas in her studio|
“My ultimate prayer is that people will connect with my art as a bridge to the divine, to the sacred.”
More about Meltem Aktas:
Sacred Art: Meltem Aktas's story on Chicago PBS Station WTTW
See Meltem Aktas's work at www.imagoicons.com.
Click here for the Fall-Winter 2016 Jesuits magazine index.