John Nava

Tapestries for the
Cathedral of Our Lady
of the Angels

The tapestry cycles of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels were made over a three year period from 1999 to 2002. The new cathedral for Los Angeles, California was designed by the Spanish architect Rafael Moneo and opened in September 2002. It is the largest Catholic cathedral in the United Sates.

The tapestries commissioned for the cathedral are comprised of three sets. The Communion of Saints is a cycle of 25 tapestries that line the nave of the church. They vary in height ranging from 21 to 14 feet high and are all about 7 feet wide. They depict a procession of 136 mostly named saints and blesseds along with some dozen anonymous figures. The average scale of the figures is 10 feet high.

The five Baptism of the Lord tapestries center on the figures of John the Baptist anointing a kneeling Christ. These are located in the rear (west) section of the cathedral above the baptismal font and are each 46 feet high and 7 feet wide.

The seven Holy City tapestries line the presbyterium wall behind the main altar and below the great cross window of the cathedral. These reference a quote from the Book of Revelation about the ultimate unification of God and Man. They are all 20 feet high and 7 feet wide.

The tapestries do not reproduce preexisting originals in fiber. Instead oil painted figurative parts - mostly hands and faces - were all made separately and combined with drawings and digitally created textures derived from photographs or put together entirely in the computer. These various pieces, all done in different scales, were finally composited and composed in the computer. Figures, groups, ground, type, surface "terrain" and color palette were all prepared as the final digital weaving file. The looms finally realized these images as tapestries. All the tapestries were fabricated in Belgium using electronic Jacquard technology.

Nava Studio Index Page The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles, California, seen from the entry plaza.
Architetect: Rafael Moneo. Great Bronze Doors: Robert Graham. Fountain: Lita Alburquerque