Procession

Completed: September, 2007
Image size: 36″ x 24″
Edition Size: 250 Prints
Paper: Coventry, Vellum White
Archival 100% Cotton-Rag Paper
Media: Serigraph, 89 colors printed

Description

Procession Map

John August Swanson often called PROCESSION a visual lexicon of his work–an artwork that incorporated stories and ideas he spent a lifetime working with.

This interactive map permits you to tap or click on a detail image to see an enhanced view of that image, find the reference, and learn more about other artworks related to it.

The titles and citations are taken from the original Procession Map, which Swanson created as a guide to his painting in 1983 (and then updated in 2007, with the printing of the serigraph). Where specific stories or figures are referenced in Swanson’s other artworks, links to those artworks will follow the citation. Artworks listed after the heading Related Artworks, will contain visual allusions to the referenced work, while telling other stories. Where no additional artworks meet either criteria, we have included Other Cultural References.

Procession Map
Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes Moses Receives the 10 Commandments Jonah and the Big Fish Daniel in the Lions' Den Jacob's Dream David Slays Goliath Samson and Delilah The Three Young Men in the Fiery Furnace Joshua at Jericho David and the Lion Moses Before the Burning Bush Adam and Eve Banished from the Garden or Eden Abraham and Isaac Joseph and His Coat Joseph Welcomes His Brothers in Egypt Ruth and Naomi Noah's Ark Moses in the Bullrushes Moses Strikes Water from the Rock Elijah and Elisha Ruth, Boaz, and Naomi with Obed The Miraculous Catch of Fish The Last Supper The Raising of Lazarus "I Was in Prison and You Came to See Me" The Wedding Feast of Cana The Baptism of Jesus Mary Magdalene Washes Jesus Feet The Flight Into Egypt The Three Kings or Wise Men The Good Shepherd The Resurrection The Annunciation The Entry Into Jerusalem Pentecost: Descent of the Holy Spirit St. Patrick, Archbishop of Armagh, Apostle of Ireland (c.389-461) St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church (c.342-420) St. Benedict, Abbot, Patriarch of Western Monks (died c.547) St. Martin, Bishop of Tours (died 397) St. Giles, Abbot (born c. 650) A Guardian Angel St. Scholastica, Abbess (died 543) St. Paul in Chains St. Rose of Lima (Peru, 1586-1617) St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, Foundress of the Missionary Sisters of The Sacred Heart (1850-1917) St. Michael (in Hebrew: "Who is Like God") the Archangel Everyman (You and I) St. Cecilia, Martyr (3rd Century) St. George, Martyr, Patron and Protector of the Kingdom of England (died c. 303) Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) St. Christopher (in Greek, Christophorus, Christ Bearer," 3rd Century) St. Veronica, Early Follower of Christ St. Elizabeth of Hungary (1207 Hungary -1231 Germany) Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas

Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes

Detail image from Procession--Loaves and Fishes

Moses Receives the 10 Commandments

Jonah and the Big Fish

Jonah 1:17 (Jonah 2:1, in the NABRE)

Jonah (Lithograph, 1983)
Jonah (Painting, 1999)
Detail image from Loaves And Fishes (Serigraph, 2003)

Daniel in the Lions’ Den

Daniel 6:8-24

Daniel (Serigraph, 2000)
Daniel (Etching, 1983)
Daniel in the Lion’s Den (Mixed media, 1982)
Daniel in the Lion’s Den (Acrylic, 1999)

Jacob’s Dream

Genesis 28:12

Dream of Jacob (Serigraph, 1974)
Dream of Jacob (Watercolor, 1984)
Dream of Jacob (Serigraph, 1986)

Related Artworks:
The Jester (Serigraph, 2001)
The Ascent (Giclee, 2014)

David Slays Goliath

1 Samuel 17:49-51

David’s Battle (1969, Scraffito)
David and Goliath (Watermedia, 1980)
David and Goliath (Serigraph, 2005)

Samson and Delilah

Judges 16:4-19

Other Cultural Reference:
Let the Bright Seraphim from Samson, by G.F. Handel featuring Kathleen Battle and Wynton Marsalis

The Three Young Men in the Fiery Furnace

Daniel 3

Fiery Furnace (Lithograph, 1982)
Story of Three Young Men (Mixed-media, 1983)
Fiery Furnace Poster (Poster, 2016)

Joshua at Jericho

David and the Lion

Moses Before the Burning Bush

Exodus 3:1-6

Detail from A Visit (Serigraph, 1995)

Adam and Eve Banished from the Garden or Eden

Genesis 3:23-24

Adam And Eve (Sgraffito, 1969)
Detail from Ecclesiastes (Serigraph, 1989)
Detail from A VISIT (Serigraph, 1995)
Adam and Eve (Giclee, 2016)

Abraham and Isaac

Genesis 22:1-18

Abraham and Isaac (1974, Scraffito)
Abraham and Isaac (1976, Serigraph)
Abraham and Isaac (1976, mixed media painting over a serigraph print)

Joseph and His Coat

Genesis 37:3

The Story of Joseph (Serigraph, 1986)

Joseph Welcomes His Brothers in Egypt

Genesis 45

The Story of Joseph (Serigraph, 1986)

Ruth and Naomi

Ruth 2:2

Story of Ruth (Watercolor sketch, 1989)
Story of Ruth (Serigraph, 1991)

Noah’s Ark

Genesis 6-8

Noah’s Ark Triptych (Suite of crayon sgraffito paintings) 1969
Building the Ark, The Flood, The Rainbow

Noah’s Ark Triptych (Serigraphs) 1974
Building the Ark, The Flood, The Rainbow

Moses in the Bullrushes

Moses Strikes Water from the Rock

Exodus 17:3-6 ; Numbers 20:2-13

Moses (Acrylic painting, 1983)
Moses (Poster, 2016)

Elijah and Elisha

2 Kings 2:11-12

Elijah (Acrylic, 1984)
Elijah (Acrylic, 2008)
Elijah (Giclee, 2008)

Ruth, Boaz, and Naomi with Obed

Ruth 4:13-17

Story of Ruth (Watercolor sketch, 1989)
Story of Ruth (Serigraph, 1991)

The Miraculous Catch of Fish

Luke 5:4-7 ; John 21:4-14

Limited edition prints
Fishermen (Serigraph, 1973)
Great Catch (Serigraph, 1993)
Fishermen (Giclee edition, 2021)

Paintings
Fishermen (Scraffito, 1969)
Let Down Your Nets (Watercolor, 1989)
Fishermen (Watercolor, 1989)
Fishermen (Acrylic mural, 1990)
Let Down Your Nets (Acrylic, 1990)
Great Catch (Acrylic, 1992)

Mosaic
Great Catch (Mosaic, 1993)

The Last Supper

The Raising of Lazarus

John 11:1-44

Raising of Lazarus (painting, 1989)
Take Away the Stone (Sketches, 1991)
Take Away the Stone (Painting, 1992)
Take Away the Stone (Painting, 1993)
Raising of Lazarus (Painting, 1994)
Take Away the Stone (Serigraph, 2005)
Gift of Life (from the Gift Triptych suite of Giclee prints, 2018)

“I Was in Prison and You Came to See Me”

Matthew 25:36

Related images:
Detail from Francis and the Wolf (Serigraph, 2002)
Detail from Last Supper (Serigraph, 2009)
Detail from Francis of Assisi (Painting, 2019)

The Wedding Feast of Cana

The Baptism of Jesus

Matthew 3:13-17 ; Mark 1: 9-11 ; Luke 3:21-22 ; John 1:32-34

The River (Acrylic painting, 1986)
The River (Serigraph, 1987)
The River (Mosaic at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Glendale, California, 2012)
The River (Giclee, 2018)
The River (Mural at Ascension Lutheran Church in Thousand Oaks, California, 2018)

Mary Magdalene Washes Jesus Feet

Luke 7: 36-50

Detail from Washing of the Feet (Serigraph, 2000)

Related artworks:
Washing of the Feet (Painting, 1999)
Washing of the Feet 2 (Painting, 1999)
Washing of the Feet 3 (Painting, 1999)
Washing of the Feet (Serigraph, 2000)
Washing of the Feet II (Giclee edition, 2011)
He Washed their Feet (Giclee edition, 2012)
Washing of the Feet (Mural, 2015)

The Flight Into Egypt

Matthew 2:13-15

Flight into Egypt (Painting, 1988)
Flight into Egypt (sketch, 1989)
Flight into Egypt (Serigraph, 2002)

The Three Kings or Wise Men

Matthew 2: 1-12

Epiphany (Crayon sgraffito, 1971)
Epiphany (Scratchboard, 1978)
Epiphany (Acrylic, 1987)
Epiphany (Serigraph, 1988)

The Good Shepherd

The Annunciation

Luke 1:26-38

Annunciation (Sketch, 1989)
Annunciation (Sketch, 1992)
Annunciation (Painting, 1992)
A Visit (Serigraph, 1995)
Annunciation (painting, 2017)
Annunciation (Giclee edition, 2017)

The Entry Into Jerusalem

Matthew 21:1-11 ; Luke 19:28-40 ; John 12:12-19

Entry into the City (Linework study, 1990)
Entry into the City (Painting in progress, 1990)
Entry into the City (Acrylic painting, 1990)
Entry into the City in Life Magazine, December 1994
Entry into the City (Acrylic painting, 2011)
Entry into the City (Giclee, 2012)

Pentecost: Descent of the Holy Spirit

Acts 2:1-41

Pentecost (Etching, 1983)
Pentecost (Hand-painted elaboration on the etching, 1983)
Pentecost (Painting, 2013)
Pentecost (Giclee edition, 2013)

St. Patrick, Archbishop of Armagh, Apostle of Ireland (c.389-461)

St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church (c.342-420)

St. Benedict, Abbot, Patriarch of Western Monks (died c.547)

St. Martin, Bishop of Tours (died 397)

St. Giles, Abbot (born c. 650)

A Guardian Angel

St. Scholastica, Abbess (died 543)

St. Paul in Chains

Acts 12:4 ; Acts 21:33 ; Acts 22:29-30

Related artworks:
The Prisoner (Serigraph, 1972)
The Man Who Goes to Jail (Mixed media paints, 1979)

St. Rose of Lima (Peru, 1586-1617)

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, Foundress of the Missionary Sisters of The Sacred Heart (1850-1917)

St. Michael (in Hebrew: “Who is Like God”) the Archangel

Daniel 10:13-21Jude 9; Revelation 12:7-9

Saint Michael (Mixed media painting, 1980)
Saint Michael (Etching, 1983)
St. Michael and the Archangels (Serigraph, 2006)

Everyman (You and I)

Related images:
Star Mountain (Scratchboard drawing, 1980)
Star Mountain (Mixed-media painting, 1981)

St. Cecilia, Martyr (3rd Century)

St. George, Martyr, Patron and Protector of the Kingdom of England (died c. 303)

A short biography

St. George (Crayon Sgraffito, 1970)
St. George (Serigraph, 1971)
St. George (Acrylic painting, 1985)
St. George (Poster, 2020)

Francis of Assisi (1181-1226)

Short biography of St. Francis
Prayer of St. Francis (Prayer card created for John August Swanson’s funeral)

Saint Francis of Assisi (Lithograph, 1985)
Saint Francis of Assisi (Painting, 1999)
Francis and the Wolf (Serigraph, 2002)
Francis and the Birds (Giclee, 2015)
Francis Listens to the Fish (Giclee, 2018)
Canticle of the Sun Suite (Suite of 8 giclee prints, 2020)

Related artworks:
Papageno (Painting, 1986)
Papageno (Serigraph, 2008)

St. Christopher (in Greek, Christophorus, Christ Bearer,” 3rd Century)

St. Veronica, Early Follower of Christ

A short biography

This story is remembered as the sixth of the fourteen Stations of the Cross.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary (1207 Hungary -1231 Germany)

A brief biography

Related images:
Detail from Good Samaritan (Serigraph, 2002)
Detail from Last Supper (Serigraph, 2009)
Detail from Madonna of the Harvest (Serigraph, 2010)

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas

Artist’s Notes 

Swanson began the acrylic painting of The Procession in 1980.  Profoundly moved by a procession at San Javier del Bac Mission in Tucson, Arizona, he was inspired to gather together earlier drawings, to develop them and create something wonderful.  It took him 14 months to complete; he considered it the grand work of his life. When the director of the Vatican Museum’s Collection of Modern Religious Art expressed an interest in acquiring the painting, Swanson was thrilled. Loyola Marymount University purchased the painting and donated it to the Vatican Museums.

Printing the image as a serigraph edition in 2007, allowed Swanson to showcase the technique and skills he developed throughout his career. Emboldened with a growth in drawing insights and printing techniques, Swanson began to print this complex image, bringing it to an even more developed level than in the painting.

The initial printings were to establish the drawing and the changes he felt would be important to the new Procession. Once the drawn outline was established, he began changing and adding new elements to the image. Each of his 89 drawings used for printing the colors began to create the sense of a rich mosaic. At the end of twelve months of printing, the new serigraph resulted in a work quite different from the early acrylic painting: more intense, the drawings more detailed and developed.

Artist’s Reflections:

The places that inspired this image are the beautiful cathedrals I have seen in Europe and Mexico: Chartres, France; Canterbury, England; Notre Dame, Paris; the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona; the Basilica of Guadalupe, Mexico City and Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles.  These are sacred places used for procession.  There are sacred places throughout the world for all beliefs, places that have special meaning in the lives of people who journey to get there.  They experience a centering, a healing, and a safe place to remember and to hope.

The journey or procession takes us out of our ordinary lives to experience a transcendental or universal connection.  The outward walk reflects an inner journey.  We have taken the steps to move to another space in the journey of our lives.  I see in the walking meditations led by Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist monk and global peacemaker, a profound example of a true procession.  Each step for him is a gesture and a hopeful prayer for peace.

In the Buddhist tradition, the mandala is used for spiritual centering.  I see a form of mandala in the PROCESSION. As in the mandala,  there is a complexity of images where all elements and ideas are drawn to the center. These images encircle the people.  This picture gives us a connection, setting us apart from the extraneous happenings and distractions that surround our lives.  It helps to focus our attention. It can provide us with the opportunity to stand back and review each of the scenes in ways that help us engage in contemplation and calm reflection on our complex lives. It becomes a metaphor for our own experiences.

Processions also move us toward a transformation of more than just our individual hearts.  Martin Luther King organized processions and marches for civil rights in the south, accompanied by spiritual leaders of different faiths.  He gathered people together to work for change and for the understanding of nonviolence.  Cesar Chavez, the leader of the United Farm Workers, organized farm laborers to work for their rights and to improve their lives. To gather support for their movement, they also walked many miles in procession, carrying banners and flags as a way of spiritual empowerment.

We, in our communities of faith, are a procession of stories, stories both unique and shared, stories connected to those who have gone before us and those who will come after us.  The theologian, Professor Alejandro Garcia-Rivera (1951-2010), wrote, “THE PROCESSION invites us to join its imagination and, in doing so, we also become part of THE PROCESSION. Our living story commingles with the little stories of the Mission and, then, somehow we realize that our story is part of a larger story, a Big Story of Heaven coming to Earth and bringing forth new life.” We gather in celebration of, and respect for, each person’s story and in expectation and awe of the story we are becoming together. This is the reality I seek to touch upon in this work.

Noted historian, Howard Zinn, offers this reflection: “What we choose to emphasize in this [our] complex history will determine our lives.  If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something.  If we remember those times and places…where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act…  And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand Utopian future.  The future in an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

It is not my desire that the complexity and intricacy of this work confuse or confound, but that it illuminate and inspire.  We are invited to join together in the procession to help each other see in ways we have never seen before, to help each other see again what we have forgotten, to see something familiar in a new way, in a new light, from a different perspective.

The great procession is a celebration of life and faith where the rich and poor march in unison; the strong carry the weak, and the weak humble the proud; those who know the dance teach those who are just learning; and a child lifts high the banner for all to follow in joy, in peace, in love.  This is the reality, the spirit I want to make real in this work.

The original painting, The Procession (1982), is in the Vatican Museum’s Collection of Modern Religious Art.