re-using, recycling, and redeeming old wood

#19 Carving at Holy Name Cathedral

I did not expect to get back to the topic of inspiration so soon. However, today I was again able to visit Holy Name Cathedral of Chicago. There is a carving to be seen which should inspire every carver.

Resurrection Crucifix 1a

As you can see in the pictures, it is a beautiful piece.
The “Resurrection Crucifix” was carved by Ivo Demetz.  Demetz used one solid log of Balsam wood. He has left the natural color of the wood show through. He has also left knife and gouge marks visible to the viewer.

Traditional crucifixes show Jesus Christ nailed to the cross, crowned with thorns, pierced and bleeding.

Resurrection Crucifix, Holy Name, 1b

The sight, grim in its purpose, reminds the viewer of the sacrifice Jesus made. The crucifix shows Jesus at the point of death.

Demetz has given this traditional depiction of Christ a twist. At first glance one sees a crucifix. Closer inspection reveals that this view of the cross is different. It is a cross. Jesus is present “in” the cross. But, there the similarity ends. Christ is not pinned to the cross by nails. There is no crown of thorns nor is he pierced. Instead, Jesus is shown whole, healthy, resurrected. Demetz has carved Jesus in such a way that he seems to float inside the cross – although he is in fact attached at several points in the carving. One last grand detail is the cross itself. The artist has carved a cross which gives the feeling of rays of power and light. It is the resurrected Christ we see.

Of interest to a carver are the bold carving strokes Demetz uses on the figure of Christ. Also the unique way of

Resurrection Crucifix, Holy Name, rear view 2 a

making the viewer feel as if the carving floats free of the surrounding cross. One more point of interest for the carver is the effect the surface treatment gives. New carvers would benefit from noticing the impact surface treatment gives to a carving.
The “Resurrection Crucifix carving always inspires me to sit at my carving bench and carve. Hope it does the same for you.

Psalm 22:1  My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?   Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?


3 responses

  1. Bill Ten Brink

    Wow, what a piece of art, a labor of love. We are made in his image. How awesome for us. The things that can be created by a fallen creation, imagine what will be when all is made right again. Good job on the above carvings, too. I feel the need to visit for a lesson or two. When to do…hmmm.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:46 am

    • Bill, I’ll bring some carving stuff to Thanksgiving….still at the E’s? You want to try cottonwood bark or bass wood?

      November 15, 2010 at 2:19 pm

  2. Yes… i also really like to visit new place, your idea is good.

    January 1, 2011 at 5:30 am

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