Yeinier was born in Cuba in 1989. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Memphis College of Art and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia College Chicago. He is a recipient of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Graduate Arts Award. In Chicago, he interned with and worked for Daprato Rigali Studios, acquiring experience in their statuary restoration, mural painting and liturgical design departments. He received Honorable Mention in the Catholic Art Institute Sacred Art Prize 2022. Yeinier works and lives in Memphis, Tennessee.
I have always had a deep connection with Beauty. As a child living in Cuba, my most vivid memories are of the natural world and the sacred images which persevered in the hostile atmosphere of the Communist regime. I believe it was my fascination with the statues of the saints and the mysterious aura of those old churches which kept me interested in the Faith even when it was not practiced at home.
Although I became a practicing Catholic years after we moved to Memphis, Tennessee, the influences of the secular art world during college and graduate school led me to shift my focus away from the divine. Convinced that a successful career as an artist meant giving up my passion for Catholic art, my personal relationship with Christ also suffered.
While making conceptual photos and videos in grad school, in my time off I would bike around Chicago and visit historic Catholic churches. The beauty of these sacred places was magnetic. On one of these adventures I toured St. John Cantius while they were restoring the interior. A year or so after, at the encouragement of my brother, I attended Mass there and participated in the Holy Week liturgies. Slowly but surely I kept coming back and stopped hopping from church to church on Sundays looking for a Mass that suited me. I realized Beauty pursued me relentlessly and He led me there to the reverent Masses which utilize the musical arts with the visual arts to fittingly worship God. This is where I attended the first meeting of the Catholic Art Institute and met Kathleen Carr. I am grateful for her sacrifice to bring this organization to fruition and am moved by her zeal for the restoration of the sacred in the arts.
The inspiring and informative lecture series and the first workshop on illuminated miniatures offered by the CAI opened my eyes to the many opportunities available for artists who desire to offer their talents for the glory of God. A love of illuminated manuscripts was enkindled there which has influenced my own work. I have attended the conferences every year and am happy to see so many young artists eager to offer their talents at the service of the Church. The Sacred Art Prize has given me an impetus to keep making work and has put me in contact with potential patrons. I recently attended the Egg Tempera Workshop with Matthew Conner and it was such a pleasure to meet and see the work of an artist I have long admired. There are few places offering the opportunities the CAI offers. I believe the mission of the CAI is essential to the evangelization of souls. I do not know where I would be if someone did not take the time to invest in the beauty of our churches which reminded me that my longing was for God.
Photo of artist Yeinier Gonzalez
Yeinier and his colleague Emese Blount work on the rose vine mural and stenciling for the church of St. Theresa The Little Flower in Memphis, TN