If you are in Washington DC this weekend, be sure to swing by the Museum of the Bible to see world renowned artist Timothy Schmalz carve a nativity sculpture live. And for everyone else – catch Schmalz at work through the museum’s live link.
It will be the first time Schmalz has sculpted live before an audience in his 30-year career. He will also interact with guests, describing his process and how the biblical texts shape his work.
“Christian sculptures are like visual sermons twenty-four hours a day” – sculptor Timothy Schmalz
Schmalz has become famous for preaching the gospel across the world through his statues, without ever uttering a word.
“My purpose is to give Christianity as much visual dignity as possible. Christian sculptures are like visual sermons twenty-four hours a day,” explains Schmalz. “I am devoted to creating artwork that glorifies Christ. The reason for this devotion, apart from my Christian beliefs, is that an artist needs an epic subject to create epic art.”
“I describe my sculptures as being visual prayers. When I create a three dimensional sculpture in bronze I am quite aware that it will last longer than myself. I realise I am between two things that are much more durable than myself: Christianity and bronze metal. It is between these that I have developed a subtle appreciation for what Saint Francis meant by “instrument” [in his famous prayer ‘Lord, make me an instrument of your peace].”
On November 17 Schmalz unveiled a sculpture depicting Jesus for World Day of the Poor that reflects the message of Matthew, 25:36, “When I was naked, you clothed me,”. Installed outside the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C., the statue one of several inspired by the verse that depict homeless Jesus in six different states – hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, a stranger and imprisoned. The series is installed around the world, including outside St James’ Church in King St, Sydney, as reported by Eternity’s Rebecca Abbott.
“Christ is found in the marginalised in our culture,” Schmalz told reporters at the Washington statue’s unveiling. “You can’t have too many reminders that all human life is sacred.”
Another of Schmalz’s striking works was recently installed in St Peter’s Square in the Vatican City in September, and unveiled at an event with Pope Francis. ‘
Angels Unawares’ is a life-size sculpture crafted from bronze and clay. It depicts a group of migrants and refugees from different cultural and racial backgrounds and from diverse historic periods in time – including Mary and Joseph – all huddled on a raft, with angel’s wings rising from the centre of their group.
Fashioned to commemorate the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Schmalz says the inspiration behind Angels Unaware was Hebrews 13:2: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares”.
Schmalz’s most recent installation, “Maternal Bond” depicting Jesus and his mother Mary, and is currently on display in the Museum of the Bible’s entrance. (See the main illustration to this article)