The Gallery at the Sheen Center
See work in progress images below
“I have often wondered why the Pieta is such a powerful and moving image. The simplicity of the subject matter seems to carry with it the weight of all of humanity. Since the Middle Ages, the depiction of Mary holding her dead son Jesus after his crucifixion has been common in the repertoire of painters and sculptors alike. The most well-known Pieta is, of course, Michelangelo’s marble found in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Many, however, may not know that Michelangelo himself repeated the subject many times and his lesser-known pietas are considered some of his greatest works.
I have, in my own work, repeated the subject of the Pieta multiple times as well, nothing to the degree of excellence of Michelangelo, but, like him, the subject continues to haunt me.
During this time of Covid-19, I have had the opportunity to do my latest rendition of the Pieta, based on similar designs I have made in the past. Usually, as I begin a project, the overall design is not fully realized. It begins typically with one figure that has a compelling pose or movement. From this figure, I develop a “responding” figure whose movements and angles harmonize with the first. This process may be repeated until every figure is in place, at which time begins a task to refine the whole and unify all of the movements and angles that occur throughout.
In regard to this Pieta, I started in the opposite manner, from large overall shape and movement down to the specific.
With the additional time due to lockdown I have spent more time refining and pushing the piece as far as I can. I have learned a lot about my own craft in developing the figure and drapery, and allowing myself to revisit aspects and change things, while maintain the overall flow and design. I have also had time to reflect on the meaning of the Pieta, especially during the unprecedented time.
One very true reality becomes evident in the Pieta: Christ is not afraid of incarnating His love, even if that means he is killed. In a moment when we are afraid to be near another person due to sickness, when we are not unified in love and do not have a common aim, it is paramount for us to imitate Jesus, who knows us in our frailty and sickness so well that he gets close to us and risks incarnation, so as to heal us. Perhaps now would be a good time to look at the pieta, the bond between a Mother and her Son.”