Posted: Monday Nov 21, 2011
Br. Nathan M. Cochran, O.S.B., instructor in fine arts, director of The Saint Vincent Gallery and artistic director of the Saint Vincent College Concert Series, was named the first winner of Saint Vincent College’s new Projektenmacher Award in recognition of his creative initiative that, in the spirit of Saint Vincent Founder Boniface Wimmer, has made a valuable difference to the campus community through creativity, imagination and vision. The award was presented by Saint Vincent College President Br. Norman Hipps, O.S.B. during the Founders’ Day Honors Convocation on November 17 in the Saint Vincent Basilica.
“A year ago on Founders’ Day, I announced my intention to honor a member of the Saint Vincent College community with a Projektenmacher Award,” Br. Norman said. “Recall that Boniface Wimmer’s fellow monks were derisive of his vision for a Mission to America, and even nicknamed him, ‘Der Projektenmacher, that big Plan-Maker! That dreamer!’ “
“But at the end of Wimmer’s life, after 40 years of extraordinary accomplishments in America, Projektenmacher came to identify an individual who got things done,” Br. Norman continued. “Twenty-four years ago, we celebrated our first Founders’ Day. It was made all the more memorable because of the efforts of Br. Nathan, who did a wonderful exhibit on Boniface Wimmer, where we saw things that had been tucked away and not seen for many years such as chalices that he used at prayer, personal items that he used at his desk, hand-written letters between Wimmer and such people as the King of Bavaria, or a local craftsman. And, most striking of all, the art treasures which Wimmer acquired as heirlooms for future generations to enjoy.”
“It’s hard to believe that Wimmer and his eighteen companions lived in a log cabin, and yet, within seven years built buildings from scratch, amassed an important art collection, and assembled a renowned orchestra and choir,” Br. Norman related. “When Br. Nathan arrived here in the early 1980s to share our common life, Saint Vincent had discontinued many of its programs in the fine arts. It was Br. Nathan who was a patient and tireless lobbyist, for the College to reactivate the fine arts program with greater zeal, and even for us to require a course in the arts as part of our core curriculum. He reminded the monks and the faculty, of the simple but profound message of Boniface Wimmer, who said: ‘I am firmly convinced that a monastic school, which does not strive to advance art as much as science and religion, will be deficient in its work.’”
“Br. Nathan reignited the interest that we once had by spending countless hours arranging art exhibits, and searching for America’s most talented, to invite them here to treat us to wonderful concerts on classical and contemporary music and dance,” Br. Norman said. “Of particular note, he initiated a Nationwide Juried Catholic Art Exhibition. For the third competition, he successfully enlisted Sister Wendy Beckett to serve as judge. She is a famed art historian from Great Britain, who is paradoxically a cloistered Carmelite nun, as well as a television star on the BBC.”
Sister Wendy wrote: "I think this endeavor by Br. Nathan is highly significant. Artists often come to understand their faith by the actual creation of artworks. We need these artworks, these attempts by artists known or unknown, to share with us their understanding of what it means to be a Christian. Would that there were hundreds of Brother Nathans in all countries!"
“We honor you, Br. Nathan, for your courage to dream in ways that are not about you, but for a vision greater than yourself,” Br. Norman said in making the presentation. “In this way, you help us to cherish the memory of our founder, Boniface Wimmer, who wrote: ‘My heart is in this work, and I will spare no expense to teach the students first what is necessary, then what is useful, and finally what is beautiful so long as it contributes to their refinement.’ In the name of the Saint Vincent College community, I wish to bestow the Projektenmacher Award to you, Br. Nathan Cochran, for your generous and priceless contribution to our common life, and to quietly show us that our natural attraction to beauty, can lead to the pursuit of the good, and to conduct our interior vision to all that is true.”
Br. Nathan earned a bachelor of arts degree at the Pontifical College Josephinum, a master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary, and a master of science degree from Pratt Institute. In addition to his work at Saint Vincent, Br. Nathan has served as a consultant to George Lucas Films while preparing for the release of a DVD of the television series, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. A member of the Emperor Karl League of Prayers for Peace Among Nations, he has worked to advance the cause of sainthood for Emperor Karl, who had ascended to the throne in the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1916, two years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, an act which had triggered the start of World War I.
Photo: Br. Norman W. Hipps, O.S.B., right, president of Saint Vincent College, presented the new Projektenmacher Award to Br. Nathan M. Cochran, O.S.B., left, recognizing his creative initiative inspired by founder Boniface Wimmer.