Interview of Daniel Cariola, artist of the Pentecost room

May 22tth, 2024
Daniel Cariola, Artist
Interview of Daniel Cariola, artist of the Pentecost room

I hope people see the good that Christ came to do and take these things seriously.

In this interview, we explore the creative process and deep meanings behind Daniel Cariola's work, which was commissioned for the Pentecost Room at Notre Dame, Jerusalem. This space, still in the process of completion, offers a 360º immersive experience capturing the essence of the Jewish festival of Shavuot and the first Christian Pentecost in the Upper Room on Mount Zion.

Daniel Cariola, a Chilean artist and author of the famous painting "Encounter" in Magdala, is the master behind this immersive work. Daniel has over 30 years of experience in fine art painting. Since 2016, he has been preparing to undertake the Pentecost Room project, researching, praying, and reflecting on this event to help bring it to life.

How has your creative process been for this work?

D: It started with Father Juan's idea of commissioning me; it was a dream for him to create a room dedicated to the event of Pentecost, the very origin of the Church. I am more analytical than expressive as a painter, so I first had to thoroughly research the history of what Pentecost is about. Father Juan and I had several conversations. Initially, he came to Chile, and we discussed the topic. Father Juan mentioned some theological aspects, which I sometimes debated with him. Eventually, we reached a consensus, such as including 120 people instead of just 12. Acts chapter 1 mentions that, in the end, Mary Magdalene and some apostles were there. In my view, it symbolizes the Lord's idea of establishing a new kingdom, not just with the 12 apostles but with a multiple of 12, or 120, symbolizing 10 per family. This creative process had to involve more characters, but we needed to highlight the main ones: the 12 apostles, the Virgin Mary, and some essential figures like Nicodemus.

I also started looking for elements to help with this, such as photographing many stones. When I went to Jerusalem with my wife, we studied the architecture, taking thousands of photos to capture textures, clothing, and people's actions.

Daniel, how long has it taken you to complete this work?

D: Initially, we estimated about a year or a year and a half. However, as the project progressed, we realized it would take longer, especially with unanticipated additions like the sky. When creating a work of art, you estimate a time frame, but things sometimes go differently than planned.

For example, depicting 120 people in full motion, considering folds, shadows, textures, lights, color harmony, composition, and theology, was challenging. I started in December 2019, but the pandemic in 2020 and an extended period in Chile delayed progress. It has taken about three years, and I still need to finish. If everything goes well, I hope to continue in June.

What are some of the symbolisms we find in this work?

D: The work is filled with symbolism. For instance, the girls represent the origin of the Church; hence, it is a woman. Pentecost marks the Church's beginning; it is a girl because it is in its early stages, beginning a new life, and dressed in white for sanctification, as the Church is Christ's bride.

Another symbol is Peter himself, depicted as a leader with the scroll of the book of Joel in his hand. In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter cites Joel's prophecy of the promise to Israel. I depicted Peter as a fisherman with colors resembling seawater, with a mantle over his shoulder floating and his arms raised to the sky. I emphasized Peter with the writing falling precisely with the impact of the thunder, the Holy Spirit wind, and falling at the feet of one of the girls. Why? The scripture falls at the Church's feet, revealed by the Holy Spirit through Peter, and the Bible says that more than three thousand people were converted that day. Peter's discourse was significant.

On the second largest wall, the central character, with arms extended to the sky, intercedes and receives all the power. This character represents the core of history, the center of Christ. He is the union between peoples, a reconciliation Christ makes in himself. Christ ultimately wants to forgive us.

Daniel, what would you like people to get, to remember once they enter the Pentecost Room?

D: I hope people see the good that Christ came to do and take these things seriously. This image reminds us of that essential element, the Holy Spirit's fire that came to burn away all evil and purify Christ's sacrifice. Creating this work has been a huge sacrifice for me, but I am happy to have done it, and I hope people see it as a blessing. For those who wish to go on a pilgrimage, I hope it helps them remember God's plan for each one of us.

With this work, Daniel Cariola not only represents a historical event but also invites spiritual reflection and a deep connection with the essence of Pentecost, leaving a lasting impression on all who experience it. We thank Daniel for this interview and for allowing us to learn more about this work.

To learn more about this work, click here or watch this interview.