From May through September, 2019, The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels will exhibit thirty-one of my paintings, serigraphs, lithographs, and giclees.
The exhibit is located in two chapels accessible from the North Ambulatory. Below, we have prepared a list of the artworks displayed, and some information about each piece.
If you have any questions about the artworks or the exhibit, you are welcome to contact my studio.

Cathedral Of Our Lady Of The Angels
555 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

7:00 am - 5:00 pm


Children enjoying the exhibit
Photos taken by Victor Aleman
Celebration of the Virgin Mary at OLA Celebration of the Virgin Mary at OLA


Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
Artworks displayed May - September, 2019

Chapel #1




Serigraph, 2001
26 ¾" x 20 ¾"
35 colors printed

THE JESTER climbs the ladder to look at the heavens. His friends are asleep, while he is awake. Part of us is awake; part of us, asleep. In this artwork, John August Swanson sought to refine his understanding of dreamscapes, creativity, and imagination.

God chooses the foolish of the world to confound the wise; God chooses the weak of the world to confound the mighty. – 1 Corinthians 1:27

Only the clown delights in the beauty of the night sky, while the rest sleep. He looks at the stars in wonder and is surprised by the vastness of the universe. Though THE JESTER and all his companions live a difficult life i the circus, only he, the fool, is wise enough to appreciate, and be able to regenerate in awe of the cosmos. THE JESTER is a modern telling of the biblical story of Jacob’s Dream, of the ladder that the angels use to climb to and from heaven.

The night sky surrounds the central image in a border of stars. This border contains many circus acts and performers as new imaginary constellations. The act at the top of the work is the high-flying trapeze. One performer jumps out in unerring faith, completely unafraid, and holding the belief that he or she will be caught.


Giclee, 2018
21½" x 23¾"


THE SHEPHERDS is based on a very early crayon sgraffito painting from 1969. John August Swanson would build up layers of brightly colored wax crayon, and then, using a metal scribe as a scraping tool, he drew intricate patterns and figures into the layers of crayon.

He felt that it was very important to go back and reconsider this artwork; it was important to go back and refine the figures, the animals, the buildings, the night sky, and the angel. He needed to share this artwork with people, so that we may consider the plight and hardships which the majority of our human family still face.

The shepherds were the poorest of workers. An angel tells them to go to a small shed in the fields. There, they find a new born baby and his homeless, refugee parents in the winter night.


Serigraph, 2006
30" x 20 ⅛"
62 colors printed

He is a reflection of the beauty of the Creator and of the brilliance of the positive.
A symbol of divine presence, justice, generosity, and compassion. This
archangel helps us to free ourselves from our demons of despair, confusion,
poverty, exploitation and war.

Serigraph, 1988
38½" x 12 ⅛"
48 colors printed

EPIPHANY depicts the journey of the three Magi
as they travel up a serpentine trail. They look up in search of
their beautiful guiding star as angels surround and point to it.

Serigraph, 2000
21" x 29 ½"
35 colors printed

Daniel is sentenced to a terrifying death,
yet he stands quietly in the midst of the wild lions
This ancient story still inspires us with its hopeful message.
It connects us to the men and women who confront and oppose the
powers in our world that keep people oppressed.

Serigraph, 2007
36" x 24"
89 colors printed

Everyone, and every community of faith, is a procession of stories. Stories are both unique and shared; they connect us to those who have gone before us, and to those who will come after us. THE 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 of peace teach those who are just learning it, and a child lifts high the banner for all to follow in joy, in peace, and in love. This is the reality, the spirit, that John August Swanson wants to make real in art.

Processions can move us all toward transformation. To gather support for their movements, people have walked many miles in procession, carrying banners and flags as a way of physical and spiritual empowerment. Martin Luther King, accompanied by spiritual leaders of different faiths, organized processions and marches for civil rights in the South. Cesar Chavez, the leader of the United Farm Workers, organized farm laborers to work for their rights and to improve their lives. Throughout history, people have gathered together to work for change through processions of understanding and nonviolence.

THE PROCESSION is John August Swanson’s most detailed and complicated artwork. The serigraph took 12 months to print; and it combines 54 different stories, shown in icons and banners throughout the artwork.


Serigraph, 1996
26" x 18"
36 colors printed

The WEDDING FEAST celebrates life. The newlyweds want all of us to share
in their joy. They bring together their community. We are all invited to their
feast. Guests celebrate the couple, and the promise of new life in the
fruitfulness of love. They eat, drink, and dance with gusto,
toasting "To Life."

Serigraph, 2003
24" x 36"
54 colors printed

LOAVES AND FISHES emphasizes and reminds us of the basic needs
of all humanity. We all share the need for food and for providing for our
families and communities. If we take the cosmic view, that there currently
exists enough of what we need to sustain the world; we urgently need to
consider sharing the resources that have been entrusted to us.

Serigraph, 2010
15¼" x 24¼"
47 colors printed

Moving forward barefoot and without fear, two figures travel through a valley transformed by their own beliefs; a world where lions and lambs can lie together in peaceful harmony.

Giclee, 2015
20" x 15¼"

On a beautiful cool morning, as the sun rises, the sky lightens, and rays of sunlight cause the ripened fruit to glow, the farmers begin to work. The fruit is a gift of their labor. Some tend to the plants and others the soil. They gather the blessings of an abundant harvest. They work together to support their families. With gratitude, they share their harvest with their community.

Our God has blessed the earth with a wonderful harvest! - Psalm 67:6  


Giclee, 2018
38" x 12"

THE RIVER supplies the water of life to us all as it winds along its course. Each person shares in its blessing, reminding us of our need to keep growing in understanding and compassion for all people, and to see our common source. It connects us to our ancestors, to our descendants, and to all humanity. It is a symbol of giving, and of family.

Communities are formed around rivers: farmers irrigate crops with their surplus; shepherds bring flocks to drink from their waters; people wash, clean clothes, and collect drinking water at their banks, as their children play. All share THE RIVER’s blessing.

The artwork also closely connects to John August Swanson’s family. His mother was raised in the isolated Sierra Nevada Mountains of Mexico. One of her fondest remembrances was on the feast of St. John the Baptist, when her family would go to the river to have a picnic and bathe in the water. Many celebrations and rituals take place at rivers. Some appear ordinary while others are mystical, but each one is integral to who we are and where we come from.

Serigraph, 2009
23" x 30"
41 colors printed

I am inspired by the community that grows from sharing food. I see, in the
Last Supper, a scene in which the sacred embraces the ordinary. Our
daily bread becomes holy when it is shared. The fruit of our labor becomes
the fruit of the Spirit, when it is shared.

Giclee, 2011
26" x 18"

In this artwork, I tried to depict the lonliness that can come with
great suffering. It is a reminder of our obligations
to each other, to our neighbors, and our communities
to be awake to their torments.

Giclee, 2011
15½" x 12½"

A bright, turbulent sky shines down on the condemned men.
The background and steps are saturated in dark purples and reds.
Two angels stand by Jesus.
And, a worn staircase and grasses lead to a weeping figure.

Giclee, 2012
12¾" x 17"

I developed this dramatic scene from a small sketch of an artwork
I had seen. While I kept the themes that I remembered, and which
inspired me, the image became more personal. There is a contemplative
aspect to each of the characters as they try to understand this great tragedy.


Hand-printed lithograph, 1983
15⅛" x 17⅜"

Three young men are taken before the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. He
tells them that they must bow before his golden idol, or be thrown in the
flames. They are faithful to the God of Israel, and refuse. Below the central
image, I continued the story as a sequence showing Shadrach, Meshach, and
Abednego thrown into the furnace, and in the final panel, the three are
accompanied by an angel, dancing unharmed.

During the time I was working on this artwork, I had been enthused by the
hieroglyphics of Babylon, which I used as motifs for the design along the
borders. I had seen the portions of the walls of Babylon, displayed in the
British Museum and the Pergamon Museum in East Berlin..


Serigraph, 1991
21¼" x 27¾"
48 colors printed

THE STORY OF RUTH is a journey, a testimony to move forward boldly,
that we can take our part in the larger picture of God's plan. We see this
same story played out today, with refugees and immigrants, who leave
their homes, villages, and cultures to find a way to survive and continue life.

Serigraph, 2000
21" x 26"
33 colors printed

The theme of this artwork encourages us to show true humility of spirit,
and love for all. We are called to treat all with respect, and to serve our
community in different capacities. True leaders are those who are called to serve.

Giclee, 2016
16½" x 13½"

TIME TO HEAL is a reflection on healing. The image shows the
different types of healing we can bring to others. As we view a visitor
holding a patient’s hand, a woman adjusting a pillow, and musicians
playing music, the artwork emphasizes the need for people to actively
participate in the healing process.

Chapel #2

The Prodigal Son

Serigraph, 1984
23" x 35½"
69 colors printed

For me, The Prodigal Son is the story of my own father, who left his family
in Sweden to immigrate to the USA, while his older brother stayed to
manage the family farm and business. He was never able to return.

Serigraph, 2004
13½" x 40"
58 colors printed

Twenty years after creating THE PRODIGAL SON serigraph, I reimagined the original drawing and expanded each of the five panels with more details. I used this drawn outline as a map, to select and build up each of the colors. For each color, I drew an intricate stencil. The careful layering of each printing creates a matrix of drawings and a depth of intense colors. The layers of inks were varied: clear glazes, strong transparent and opaque inks.

Serigraph, 2002
30½" x 10¾"
31 colors printed

I was very interested in the tradition and style of
Biblia Pauperum (Paupers' Bible) from the Middle-Ages.
The idea of people who could not read, but knew stories from images,
appealed to me. I used very early iconic imagery to depict
the passage of day to night to day within the tops of the
three main panels.

Giclee, 2012
16" x 20"

I feel this paschal season ritual transcends religious observances,
and gives us a beautiful guide for our lives. We are called to treat each
other with respect, and to serve in our community to our utmost.

Giclee, 2008
26" x 20"

The moon shines through an ominous sky illuminating the betrayal.
The figures embrace, understanding what is happening,
and the gravity of what is to come.

Giclee, 2013
24¾" x 28¾"

CRUCIFIXION III began as a sketch I made in 1978.
In the Fall of 2011, Emory University approached me to create
Lenten images, and I revisited the original sketch. Variations of this image
appeared in a series of posters I created in support of Proposition 34,
which called for the end of the death penalty in California.

Giclee, 2013
36" x 27"

The idea behind MANY CROSSES came to me during California’s 2012 Election.
While I read over Proposition 34, I began to think of crucifixion as being a common
form of the death penalty in Jesus’ time. It was used as a public display of
power and authority, and oppressed the people.

Giclee, 2011
11½" x 16⅝"

THE DEPOSITION is based on a sketch I did of
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio's The Entombment of Christ,
which I developed into a gestural painting. I slowly added colors
and rough suggested shapes to indicate movement and lamentation.

Serigraph, 2010
18" x 15½"

I wanted to portray Mary as a young woman close to the earth. MADONNA OF THE HARVEST expresses the goodness and beauty of Mother Earth; it celebrates a humankind that cares for the Earth, and is able to share the world's bounty.

Great Catch

Painting, 1991-1992
24½" x 35½"

This image is about our search for life. The fishermen are weary, yet they are surprised and excited to see their abundant catch, fish of every size and color. We go through the discouraging darkness of the night, and sometimes we want to give up. Then, we hear a voice within, or a friend or mentor says, "Try again." In this story, we learn about work, patience, waiting, and trying hard.

Painting, 2012
36" x 48"

I wanted to convey my feelings from being in marches for peace and justice. This scene has been repeated countless times in the lives of heroic and selfless leaders who have fought for love, peace, and social justice.

Serigraph, 2005
21" x 31"
60 colors printed

David goes forward barefoot, alone, and without armor.
The army is powerless and afraid of the strong Goliath. He faces the
supreme death machine, the technological cutting edge of armor, weaponry
and conquest of the time. He speaks to this powerful giant,
and knocks him down with his slingshot. I believe this story
continues today in the lives of people who speak out
against those who would conquer.

Copyright © 2019 John August Swanson