WASHINGTON – Washington National Cathedral will host a new art exhibit showcasing thousands of paper doves suspended from the Cathedral’s vaulted, 100-foot-high ceiling, beginning next week through May 2021. The “Les Colombes” exhibit is by German artist Michael Pendry, who has created similar works at Cathedrals around the world, and symbolizes the Biblical theme of hope and optimism heading into the new year after a very challenging 2020.
“The past year tried and tested us in ways none could have anticipated, bringing a deadly global pandemic that has claimed 300,000 American lives as well as racial strife that has forced a long-overdue reckoning on justice and policing in our society,” said The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, dean of Washington National Cathedral. “While these issues are very much still with us, and will remain so, we look ahead to the new year with hope for a brighter day and a new chapter. These doves, beautifully arranged to give new life to our Cathedral, embody our resolve to be kind to our fellow man and to do our part in making a better tomorrow.”
Once completed, the exhibit will include more than 2,000 paper doves, designed to appear like they are flying in a long, winding column through the Cathedral’s nave, where worship services are held. The doves have appeared in Salisbury Cathedral in Salisbury, England; St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London; Mount Zion in Jerusalem; Heilig-Geist Viktualienmarkt in Munich; and Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.
“The ‘Les Colombes’ installation has found homes of some of the world’s most iconic sacred spaces, and now I’m thrilled to exhibit this piece in Washington National Cathedral, where it can challenge and engage new audiences, both virtually and, eventually, in person,” said Pendry. “It is a multimedia art installation that affects visitors on multiple sensory levels, and the doves featured in this piece symbolize peace and resilience, which are desperately needed in the troubled times we live in, especially as we reflect back on 2020.”
The Cathedral remains closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but once it is deemed safe to reopen, members of the public will be able to visit the Cathedral and see the exhibit. In the interim, a special section of the Cathedral’s website, www.cathedral.org/doves, will allow visitors to experience the exhibit virtually. This exhibit is sponsored by a fund from the German Bishops Conference and Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Foreign Office in Berlin, which supports projects of German artists abroad.