Finding artistic inspiration from Michelangelo: A pilgrimage to Rome

ROME – We all know the image: God’s arm extending across the pastel blue sky, his muscles in tension, his body twisted and enveloped in a brain-shaped veil. His finger inching toward that of Adam, who lies seemingly lifeless, waiting for that ‘touch of life’ that will give birth to the race of men.

Michelangelo’s memorable fresco of the creation of Adam, placed on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, took the better part of four years to be completed, from 1508 to 1512. But for an artist from New Jersey, recreating the masterpiece took but three days.

In March, artist James Raczkowski, along with Mike Fusco and Kerry Thompson, set out to create a 20.5 by 23 foot rendering of the Creation of Adam on a building in Bay Ridge, NY. The occasion was that of Reconciliation Monday, when the Archdiocese of New York, and the Dioceses of Brooklyn and the Rockville Centre collaborated to encourage faithful to attend confession before the celebration of Easter.

Artist James Raczkowski (Left), along with Mike Fusco and Kerry Thompson, created a 20.5 by 23 foot rendering of the Creation of Adam on a building in Bay Ridge, in Brooklyn. (Credit: Ed Wilkinson.)

On September 25, Raczkowski came to Rome to visit the original masterpiece and see with his own eyes what he had only viewed in art textbooks or digital images, but had been embedded into his artistic background for most of his life.

“In his paintings, like in the Sistine chapel, the color and his sense of form are incredible. It seems like he just knew form, maybe better than anybody else and he was able to just ‘create the body’ from imagination,” Raczkowski, 30, said while walking through the majestic yet crowded halls of the Vatican Museums. “I think that’s something that a lot of artists who paint the figure aspire to do but it’s really difficult and it takes years, like a lifetime. It seems like he had that mastered like nobody else.”

In truth, it took time for Michelangelo to…

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