Home Diocesan News Former art teacher’s son finds joy in restoring religious articles
Former art teacher’s son finds joy in restoring religious articles Print E-mail
Written by Nancilynn Gatta, Special to the Exponent   
Friday, 26 January 2018 11:58

LIBERTY Twp., Ohio – Stephen Medovich credits God for his artistic talent and his father, Fred Medovich, for encouraging it.

“My father was an art teacher, so I’ve been doing art all my life,” said the General Motors retiree and member of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Basilica/St. Anthony Parish, Youngstown.

Since 2004, Medovich has put his creative skills to use in repairing and restoring religious statues and artifacts.

“Through the years I learned different techniques,” taking many art classes at Niles McKinley High School, at Youngstown State University and at Ohio State University, said Medovich. A science major, he minored in art while at Ohio State. He is a Renaissance art lover, noting that much of the work he does pertains to that style. He learned a great deal about art from reading DaVinci, he said.

Medovich’s early restoration projects began at home. He started to repair family statues in 1968, he said.

Religious statues, when placed outside, are prone to breaking, cracking and peeling due to the extremes of both high humidity and frigid temperatures, he noted.

Indoor items are also prone to environmental issues, such as moisture, washing with harsh chemicals and accidental breakage.

Though Medovich pointed out that each restoration has its difficulties, a particularly challenging one came to mind.

At his parish, he “worked on an outdoor concrete statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. She was painted white with maybe 25 or more layers of paint. One hand was broken off. I had to make a replacement,” he said.

“After painstakingly removing the paint, I found it revealed the most beautiful concrete statue I’ve ever seen. The detail was incredible, although the elements of time and weather wore [the statue] down. I re-carved her to bring out the highlights. She had six little cherub faces in her crown. She was restored to the original colors of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Medovich said that his being Catholic and the research he has done have helped him in his restorations, especially with the colors of the statues. “Our Lady of Lourdes is a different color scheme from the Immaculate Conception,” he noted.

In a little more than a decade of concentrating on restoration, Medovich has repaired a variety of items at Churches in Mahoning and Trumbull counties as well as for individual owners.

He repaired every piece of the indoor Nativity scene as well as the outside Nativity at the Mt. Carmel Basilica; each of the statues in the basilica hall; the main altar at the former Youngstown Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, now St. Angela Merici Parish; the statues of the infant Jesus, Jesus on the cross, the Blessed Mother and St. Maron on the outside front of Youngstown St. Maron’s Church; and the Risen Christ crucifixes at Campbell St. Joseph the Provider Church (part of Christ the Good Shepherd Parish) and St. Anthony of Padua (part of the Mount Carmel Basilica Parish).

With each repair, he must consider the material of the statue, the type of paint, the color match and the fragility of the item because of its age.

“If the statue is very old, chipped and faded, it will require a complete paint job,” Medovich said. “I go with the original colors. If a small area needs to be repaired, I will blend the paint to match the statue. Sometimes, it is difficult to match because when paint dries, it tends to become darker.”

According to Medovich, there is not a typical timeline for repairing a statue.

“Each statue is unique. Older statues are delicate and tend to crumble when restoring plaster. To rebuild a chipped nose or hand it could take up to eight hours,” he said.

Medovich takes a great deal of pride in the restoration work he does, but he is especially pleased with some of his projects.

The two projects he is most proud of are at his parish – “the Sacred Heart of Jesus statue, because when you gaze upon him, you feel his mercy, and St. Joseph holding the baby Jesus. It just feels so warm and so full of love.”

But Medovich believes that his finest renovation was not on a statue.

“I think my best work was restoring the murals on the altar at the Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. I thank Reverend Monsignor Michael Cariglio for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to complete this work,” he said.

Besides the satisfaction of a job well done, Medovich said he has specific reasons for doing these kinds of projects.

“I just like to fix and restore beautiful works of art. For some, it’s to keep a family heirloom that is something that can be passed down from one generation to the next.

“And concerning the statues in the churches, if I can make them beautiful again, it might help to elevate our prayers. I thank God that he gave me the talent and the opportunity to do his work.”


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