The Pieta Sculpture

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See a video of the completed sculpture at the end of this post

I love being in a relationship with Jesus Christ……. and by His grace, hear and respond to the movement of the Holy Spirit in my life. This sculpture is a response to the Holy Spirit. I was trying to explain to my priest the feeling that comes over an individual when He is moved by the Holy Spirit and I was kind of fumbling for words and my priest said to me that is an “anointing” Well, that is what happened to me…… twice, when I saw this particular 110 year old fir stump in front of a local church where I attend Mass occasionally. The first time I discounted the movement and thought to myself that it is not possible and the second time the Holy Spirit moved in me about the same project in the same stump, I took note with reservations thinking to myself, are you sure this is something that You want me to do and are you sure I can do it.

This second time was on a Thursday morning and I let the thought sit with me that day. The next morning, Friday,  after the morning Mass, I made an appointment to speak with the priest, Father Shaun, about this matter. I asked him what the plans were for the stumps that were in front of his house and he told me that the previous evening the parish council had decided to have them removed on that Saturday morning, the next morning in fact. I said OK and we moved on to other conversation and then it returned to the stump and Father Shaun asked me what I had in mind for the stump. After I told him about the inspiration I received from the Holy Spirit and the project I had in mind, he said he would call the parish council members and let them know that the next morning, that only one of the two stumps in the rectory’s front yard would be removed, because he was going to allow me to proceed with the project I had in mind. He apparently has a lot of faith.

When I left his residence, I went to a nearby church that had the model of the project that I anticipated doing and on the way there, again the Holy Spirit sent an anointing on me confirming the decision to go ahead. I don’t mind saying that I was in tears as I was praising God. So yes, this project is the result of the movement of the Holy Spirit in my life. I pray that it will be a blessing to all that gaze upon it,

Through the grace of God, I have become a part of the essence of this old fir tree, that has stood on this church’s grounds for over more than half of the life of this parish. Now it will continue to be a blessing to the parishioners of this church, and by the grace of God will be transformed into the likeness of Jesus and His mother, when He was taken down from the cross and laid in His mother’s arms. Many of the Renaissance artists considered art to be an embodiment of the moral and cultural values of the day. It was Dante who called sculpture, “visible speech.” My hope is that this sculpture will speak volumes about the love He and His mother have for each of us and that it somehow reflects the moral and cultural values of this particular family of Christ’s.

photo (2) During the construction process, I have taken photos at the end of each day so that you can see the progress.

Here is the first cut in this 42 inch high stump. The width of the stump in both directions is is approximately 60″. When I made this first cut, I was amazed at the color of the wood. For the most part it is very solid but there was a lot of moisture in the wood which has made the tooling very challenging and requires that I clean my tools everyday. The size of the sculpture will be approximately 75% of actual human size.

In the next photos, you can begin to see the figure of Christ laying on the lap of His mother. This is all chain saw work at this point. Look how the natural flow and length of the stump accommodates  the legs of Jesus. This was one one of attributes of the stump that caught my eye and it faces the church doors, so when you exit the church, you see the front view of this sculpturphoto (3)e. photo (4) photo (12) photo (8)

I attend Mass in the morning and spend approximately an hour with the Lord in adoration and then I will work on the project for about 4 or 5 hours each day. It is probably more of a gift to me from the Lord than it is for the parish, even though the parishioners are excited and supportive of the work.

Here’s a view from a distance and as you can see I have a canopy set up to keep the sun off my back and the latest photo to date. I’ll keep you updated on the progress.

photo (5) photo (6) photo (14) Today I worked on the hand of Mary holding Jesus’s hand…. very challenging.

I have been on vacation for two weeks and today I begin anew. All chain saw work today on the back and bottom of the sculpture; my goal is to have Mary sitting on a beam. I thought that beams or old parts of crosses would be available for Mary to sit on at the actual site, to receive her Son from off the cross. I am planning at this point to put the cross behind Mary for her to lean against.

As I was contemplating this scene, I felt that it would be windy on top of Golgotha, especially after a solar eclipse, an earthquake and the killing of our Lord, so as much as I can, I’m going to incorporate wind in the sculpture in Mary’s mantle, clothing and both figure’s hair. You can begin to see the wind in the mantle from this back and these sides views. 
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         photo (19) Today’s installment…..again working on Mary’s back, slimming her down, and on Jesus’s face and neck area. Began working on the legs of Jesus. Here is a picture of me with the sculpture taken by one of the parishioners, Dianne. It gets a little more refined each day.

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photo (32)photo (31) Today’s installment…….What was interesting about today was the people that stopped by and chatted and prayed with me. I could tell that they were children of God by the way they spoke and more importantly, what they were doing at the church; Adoration of Jesus.

I’m sure it’s difficult from the pictures to see, but I worked on Jesus’s legs , feet and the arm that hangs down. You can begin to see these body parts and the hand being shaped.

photo (38) photo (36) photo (35) Today I cut in Mary’s feet and worked on the left side of the sculpture, Mary’s hand holding Jesus’s head. Notice the grain patterns in the wood. I think that these are really going to set this sculpture (42) photo (41) Today I’m beginning the the carving of the finish details. I’m assuming this will take a couple of weeks. I began with the face of Mary trying to get the shape of her head just right I can tell I still need a little work on it before I detail the eyes, nose, mouth, hair and mantle. You can see the 6×6 post that i’m envisioning for the cross that she will be leaning against while holding Jesus.

What a great joy this is to me. Today, Theresa, a parishioner stopped by and gifted me with this Our Lady of Light medal which has a picture of the Pieta on the back of the medal with the inscription: “See how I hold my Son in death, when you suffer I hold you the  same way. I am your mother and I love you.” How fitting, I am so blessed to have this opportunity to sculpt this scene, of Jesus and Mary’s love for us. photo (45)

photo 2 (1) photo 3 (3) Spent about 3 hours today working on Jesus’s face. The work is slow and tedious at times and I’m sure many of you can’t see what I’ve done one day to the next, but that’s fine. When I post these pictures, it allows me to see the sculpture differently and I notice details that I don’t when at the site, a different perspective. For example, in this photo I notice that Jesus’s head is still too large in proportion to everything else, so the next day I will address this detail. Proportion is one of my toughest issues because I don’t have live models there to look at. In this type of work, everything is larger and I’m always moving to take off the just the right amount. I do so cautiously because I don’t have the luxury of putting it back on, like in clay or other mediums in shop environments. God bless you!

photo 1 (4) photo 2 (4) photo 3 (1) photo (47)                             I have temporarily placed the cross that I have made behind Mary to see if the size, proportion and feel of the cross will add to the overall effect of this work. And I think it does work, so it will become a permanent part of the sculpture soon. Thanks to Dave Huston for providing the material for the cross.

Today the goal for me was to put a face on Mary. I prayed a rosary for the success of this endeavor and took our “blessed” Immaculate Heart of Mary photo down from the wall of our home and enlisted her help through prayer as I was doing the work and used her image as a model for the sculpture to the best of my ability. This was critical that I not screw this up and it would have been so easy to do so, but with Mary’s intercession, all went well and I was happy with the outcome. Of course, the face of Jesus was my next challenge and then taking care of the final details. One of these was a crown of thorns I purchased on the net from Jerusalem, which I have hanging on the cross. Everyday the sculpture is a little more refined, but at some point with the help of the Holy Spirit, I’m going to have to say, it is finished.  photo (49) photo 2 (6) photo 1 (6) photo 1 (8) photo 2 (8) photo 3 (8) IMG_0789 (1) Click here to see a short video of the Pieta sculpture

The sculpture has been completed and was finished on Oct 2, 2014. On that day, after I cleaned up my tools and I was done, I went into the church to give thanks to God. As soon as I entered church and before I could utter a word of praise and thanksgiving, my Lord sent an anointing within me that stirred me to my bones and I cried for probably 30 minutes. It was as if He was saying thank you to me for responding to His initial urging to do this representation of He and His mother and following it through to completion. We can not out give the Creator. I hope this image will help us all recognize the great sacrifice that both He and His mother have made for us and realize in the depths of our soul the unfathomable love that Jesus and His mother Mary have for each one of us. Immerse yourself in that love and mercy.

If you would like to see this sculpture, it resides at St. Nicholas Catholic church in Sunman, Indiana. The blessing and dedication took place on the Feast of Christ the King, 2014, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, at 11:30 am. Here are some pictures of that event. God bless all of you.

IMG_0400.JPG IMG_0410.JPG IMG_0416.JPG IMG_0420.JPG Feburary 25th, 2015 photo photo (67) A Boy Scout, Anthony Martini, recently added a sidewalk and a garden of sorts around the carving as a Boy Scout Eagle project. Everyone that has spoken to me about it, thinks it is a great addition, as I do as well. Congratulations Anthony on a job well done and for earning the prestigious Eagle Scout award. Here are a few pictures of the completed project on April 6,2016.

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6 thoughts on “The Pieta Sculpture”

  1. It is so beautiful! I took my first grade class over to see it the day you finished. They were in awe and asked a lot of questions. Your talent and faith is a true witness of God alive within you. Thank you so much for sharing your talent and faith with the people of St. Nicholas.

  2. This is amazing. My 92 year old aunt and sister went to see this very work of blessed art yesterday, and my aunt emailed me your website. I’m so very happy she did. This is truly beautiful and inspiring.

  3. Thank you Gary for sharing your talent and your inspiration. I always knew, when looking into your beautiful blue eyes, you were a man of Christ. Have really enjoyed this page and will take a first hand look in the near future. Love you, Chris

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