In the narthex and in the back of the sanctuary there are two different models of the image of Christ that, eventually, will be cast in bronze as a greater-than-life-sized sculpture and will hang in our sanctuary near the west window above the tabernacle. Tomasz Misztal, the artist (www.tomaszmisztal.com), was born in Poland in 1957 and currently lives and works in Portland. He earned his Fine Arts Ph.D. from the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk, Poland. His works are on display in private collections and museums internationally, most notably in the Vatican. He recently completed installations for the new Catholic Charities Building in Portland and the new St. Francis Church in Bend.
A few things to note about the sculpture:
Christ is crucified, yet triumphant. There are many images depicting Christ in this state, most notably the “San Damiano Cross” popularized by St. Francis. These acknowledge the suffering of Jesus and, at the same time, his victory over death. I have always thought that depictions of the risen Jesus say too little about his suffering, and images of Christ in death do not say enough about resurrection. Yet all depictions have their proper place.
Since the sculpture will have the large west window behind it, the art committee realized that it will be viewed as a silhouette some of the time. To incorporate a cross shape would only block the key features of the body of Christ when there is a western sun. Therefore, no cross beams will be included. Additionally, since silhouettes can sometimes look “spooky”, it is necessary to avoid that impression. When the sun is in the east the face needs to appear compassionate and timeless in order to lead the viewer to a deeper relationship with Jesus via this sacred image. The artist accomplished these issues masterfully.
Furthermore, the Building Committee decided early on to work with local artists for the church appointments in the interest of sustainability and supporting the local economy.
The cost of the mock-up versions was $7000, all paid through donations in honor of my silver jubilee, and I am very grateful to all who contributed. This stage was necessary to make sure the depiction is what we truly want. But when it comes to the final greater-than-life-sized sculpturing that includes bronze casting, transportation, engineering to manage its weight, and final installation, the cost will be in the neighborhood of $70,000. It will also be the only one of its kind in the world.
Funding has yet to be determined, but it was important to let parishioners know of the long-range plans for this preeminent image of Jesus for our church.
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. John Kerns