In this post I'm sharing a piece I did about a year ago in my sculpture course.
Prayer, bronze, 2008
I am by no means a pro when it comes to bronze sculpture. This is the only one I've done, for a class assignment, which I was necessarily heavily guided through and assisted. Just wanted to make that disclaimer.
This piece is a self-portrait of sorts. No, it doesn't look like me. It's actually not modeled after any specific person, it's something I used no reference for...just drawn from my knowledge of the human form. It's generally very important for me to work from a reference, I particularly enjoy working from life, (from an actual person) though it can be challenging for me at times to work with the human form from life because I am just starting to learn how to work with models, that is working with a model one on one. The first and only time I had a model all for myself was this past semester for a series of two paintings and I LOVED it! So I'm getting there but it's still something to be worked on, it will come with time and experience. Though not working from a specific person with this piece perhaps worked well, because it makes the figure more inclusive in a sense but really it's something I'd want to generally avoid in my art because I really prefer capturing the likeness of an actual person. I'm much more engaged and focused in my art when that is the case. So when I said this piece is a self portrait of sorts I didn't mean so much a physical likeness as an expression of my experience and relationship with God. Without getting into too much detail, this piece is a reflection of how God revealed Himself to me when I was at a low point. It is recalling a certain time in my life, which had occurred the year I made this piece when I knelt before God in my pain and desperation, my loneliness and He met me in a way where I KNEW for the first time that yes God is very real and yes God is Love. Though this piece isn't only about an isolated experience, but rather how that experience was the beginning of an ever intensifying surrender to perfect Love. Through the language of the body, in its receptive open posture, in its kneeling, communicates openness and dependence on God. The nudity of the figure expresses the whole person,in the totality of their being as being presented to God. This sculpture is very TOB in that the body makes visible the invisible spiritual reality. It speaks of the integration of body and spirit, how the body reveals the person. The gash over the figure's heart emphasises the vulnerability of the person. I came to God broken and vulnerable, and in that brokenness and vulnerability He met me. In my own experience my brokenness drove me to seek God and receive Him in a way I otherwise may not have been open to. By presenting our pain to God we give Him the opportunity to be our Healer and transform it into something beautiful. For me that something beautiful that resulted from my pain is a love relationship with Jesus that has met my needs for total acceptance, love, and intimacy beyond my wildest imaginings. My lack of these things drove me to seek Him and He provided with His very self! I believe my experience is pretty universal and a lot of people would be able to relate to this piece in one way or another. Also, I recall as I was making this sculpture I was aware of its Marian dimension. On one level this piece expresses Mary's total submission, trust and receptivity before God. As a woman particularly, or more generally as a person before God I have an inherent connection with Mary. As I was making the gash in the chest of this figure I couldn't help but think about the Scripture where Simeon says to Mary "...and a sword will pierce your own soul too." (Luke 2: 35). This verse, and this layer of meaning in the sculpture speaks of participation in the Passion of Jesus Christ. I believe that this connects to my own experience in that Christ, by his suffering and death, entered into our own suffering and death and through his resurrection redeems and makes something beautiful come out of our brokenness if we but open up and let Him. Though of course Mary participated in the Passion of her Son in a different way than anyone else, by her being sinless and also through her special relationship and closeness to Jesus.
Marian themes are going to play a big part in my art and something I'm going to be revisiting again and again. After all, it is through and by her flesh that Jesus took on flesh, our humanity.
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