Brian Whelan

Holy City Installation

This exhibition is closed.

Fairfield University

John A Barone Campus Center
1073 N Benson Rd, Fairfield, CT

Friday, December 1, 2023 — Monday, February 12, 2024

In recognition of the ongoing war in the Holy Land, Fairfield University will display “Holy City,” an interfaith installation by international artist Brian Whelan.


Fairfield University will display “Holy City,” an interfaith installation by international artist Brian Whelan, beginning December 1 in the John A. Barone Campus Center. The work is comprised of nine paintings, each representing the three Abrahamic faiths — Christianity, Islam, and Judaism — coexisting with their houses of worship, supporting and uplifting one another. When displayed together, the nine panels create a 9-by-12-foot work of art championing the vision of unity.

“The University has a rich tradition of celebrating the many faiths of all of its students and we are proud to continue that tradition with the work by renowned artist Brian Whelan, whose studio is in Connecticut,” said Fairfield University Vice President for Mission and Ministry Rev. Paul K. Rourke, S.J. “With his depiction of a world in which Christian churches, Islamic mosques, and Jewish synagogues exist in harmony, he offers us a revelation of true interfaith coexistence, especially poignant in today’s horrifying conflict in the Middle East.”

The Washington National Cathedral first exhibited Whelan’s nontych painting in 2016 to commemorate the fifteen-year anniversary of September 11, 2001.

“Although I have been to many holy cities around the world, these paintings do not depict any holy city that actually exists,” said Whelan of his work. “This is my aspirational vision of what a holy city looks like. Each of the canvases contain churches, mosques and synagogues, painted in bright playful and colorful forms. An abstracted, disarming image of cultural unity: living together in peace, acceptance, and in harmony: a haven for the soul. The buildings rest in each other’s shadow, supported and uplifted by the buttress of each other’s faith. In this holy city, hospitality would be offered to all.”

Whelan was trained at the Royal Academy of Art London. His paintings have been exhibited and installed at cathedrals and religious institutions worldwide. He is also a screenwriter of three produced films (one funded and archived by National Gallery of Art, London), and has authored a play and numerous books.

This exhibition in an initiative of the President’s Office and was facilitated by Philip I. Eliasoph, PhD, professor of art history and visual culture, and special assistant to the president for arts and culture.