The call came on Friday evening at a quarter to six, the last day of the fall quarter. Jerald Enos was tying up loose ends before leaving for the holiday break, but he answered the phone anyway. On the line was Stephen Privett, S.J., president of the University of San Francisco.
Privett had a request: Could Enos, the resident scenic designer for SCU’s Department of Theatre and Dance, create two banners for the liturgy and swearing-in ceremony for the first woman in history to be elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives? Reason being that Enos had been the artist behind banners painted in memory of six Jesuit priests and two women murdered in El Salvador in 1989—banners that Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had seen and admired. And she wanted him to use a similar technique to feature the faces of children she visited in Darfur and New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Enos, who lauds Pelosi as “the new voice of the voiceless,” agreed to the request without hesitation.
The timeline was tight. Enos had to have the banners completed and mailed to Washington, D.C., before Jan. 1. In order to do this and not have the project interfere with his holiday plans, he needed to design, create, paint, and ship the banners by Dec. 22 —just one week after receiving that late afternoon phone call.
Enos gathered his supplies over the weekend and, with help from student Robert Campbell, fellow scenic artist Shawn Andrei, and colleague Joanne Martin, worked from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. for the next four days. Enos chose the faces of children to incorporate in his banners from images sent by Pelosi’s staff.
“It was like a meditation on the gift of life and the abundance of things we have,” he said, referring to the experience of looking closely at the faces of children in a time of need.
The two 36-inch-by-54-inch banners were finished and shipped to D.C. and were on display at Trinity (Washington) University, Pelosi’s alma mater, where she attended Mass the day before she was sworn in.
“This is an opportunity to tell a story the country—the world—needs to be aware of,” said Enos, who declined payment for the project and donated the banners to Trinity. “If it raises the consciousness of one person, then I’ve been paid.” KCS