Trevor Southey
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SPECIAL PROJECTS

Warriors | Red Cliff Floors - Keyenta | Christ the Teacher

CHRIST THE TEACHER
COMMISSIONED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF SCRANTON 1997
Having had a long and deep association with the teachings and thus, I would hope, the essence of Jesus Christ, I find that perhaps the single most powerful spiritual message of Christ is the central one of compassion. Indeed all other spiritual quests are diminished without it. Thus when the University honored me with the possibility of creating a large sculpture of Christ the teacher, the teachings including all those of atonement, eternal life, the righteous life etc., became distilled into this single notion as I have presented it in this work.
Christ Statue
Christ the teacher - close up

Of course there are all kinds of alternative and layered possibilities, which should present themselves to each viewer according to his or her place in time and human culture. Christ, whose own humble origins are suggested by a carpenter's apron, appealed to a widely varied group of people because he was able to go to the place of each individual where he or she happened to be, money lender, prostitute, fisherman. But the message, although it might reach such a variety, remained constant.

I chose to use the seated figure of a heavily shrouded woman who represents those to whom Christ referred as "the least of mine". While full of pathos, she contains for me, a deep residual sense of strength. She represents all men and woman who might for whatever reason; sin, genes, luck, etc. find themselves at the edge of physical or spiritual survival. Most of us have been close to this edge in one way or another. In this work the overriding implication is the call to commit to one another as we each enter this woman's soul. We are charged to embrace the souls of those like her when we are strong. We must also be willing to be part of His family, by being embraced in our turn of human frailty. Humility and wisdom dance a delicate movement..

The raiment of Jesus is blown as if by a sudden rush of wind and connects to a "tree" (the cross) behind the figures. There are implications of future pain and sacrifice, and also triumph, but here is a suggestion of sacrifice from Him to the woman and all human kind. It implies His idea of being willing to give also one's shirt if asked for one's cloak. It becomes a kind of conduit between those who would seek to understand Christ, or simply an observer (the viewer), a link from that person via the supplicant, and thus Jesus, and onward to the Father and back again. It is in the action of compassion that the fluidity of that movement is assured.

As I worked on the piece in my car port (rather than my studio so I could be close to home to take care of my ailing mother), the sculpture became a point of considerable attention in my neighborhood. As these guests and friends and family came by, I was fascinated and touched to hear and observe all kinds of responses, often emotional, about the figures. This made clear the fearful responsibility that I had in doing this work. It is my hope that it will bless those who view it even though this may often require considerable thought and patience in that process. For me it has been one of the greatest spiritual and creative experiences of my life.

Full Sculpture
View of the the entire sculpture
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