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Vatican chooses SF artists for Year of Mercy light show

December 17, 2015
Christina Gray

A San Francisco creative studio was chosen by the Vatican to create a photographic interpretation of Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’” (“On Care for our Common Home”) for the opening of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy at St. Peter’s Basilica Dec. 8.

Obscura Digital co-founders Chris Lejeune and Travis Threlkel flew to Rome a few days earlier to present the 60-minute public art show entitled: “Fiat Lux: Illuminating Our Common Home” to Pope Francis as a gift, a spokesperson for the studio told Catholic San Francisco.

“Fiat Lux” – the title means “let there be light” – brought the pope’s message to life with what the founders call “visual opera.” Powerful images of humanity and nature taken by award-winning photographers such as National Geographic’s Steve McCurry were curated by Threlkel and woven together by filmmaker Louie Psihoyos and projected onto an enormous canvas provided by St. Peter’s.

Threlkel said “Fiat Lux” follows the Catholic Church’s long tradition of communication through art, from stained glass and frescoes to soaring architecture.

“Pope Francis is trying to create a dialogue and we were honored to support his endeavor,” said Threlkel. “We’re showing the diversity and glory of God’s creation on the planet, and we’re hoping to inspire the world to have reverence for all things.”

Obscura Digital is located in the city’s Dogpatch District and employs 60 full-time artists and technologists. The studio’s mission is to “project change” by working with forward-thinking “visionaries” in bringing historic moments to life on tall buildings and public spaces, according to its website.

Fiat Lux coincided with the 2015 U.N. climate change conference held near Paris Nov. 30-Dec. 11.

“We are humbled and grateful for the opportunity to work with Pope Francis and the Pontifical Council,” said Lejeune. “It’s important for us to collaborate with global change-makers and there are few more popular or influential than Pope Francis.”

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