Risen Christ, Saint Zepherin's Church, Wayland, Massachusetts, Imperial Danby Vermont marble, black granite, Rosso Levanto Turkish marble, life size, 1992.

As a Traditional Sculptor I was presented with the problem of making an Architectural setting and a sculpture for the new Saint Zepherin's Church that had the architecture of a meeting hall. I use a Renaissance Marble Carving Method .See my article- Looking over Michelangelo's Shoulder as He Carves Marble- 
http://www.corneliussullivan.com/gloucester_lectures.html

The sculpture is part of a permanent Architectural element designed by the sculptor at Saint Zepherin's Church

 I took the shape of the Palladian arch in the architecture of the building and copied that exactly in shaping and cutting the back marble slab. To symbolized the Veil of the Temple splitting I split in two the perfect piece of very expensive Rosso Levanto Turkish Marble with several well placed blows.

The slightly larger than life size head of white marble was perfect for a Risen Christ. It had monumentality from the beginning in the stone. That is reminiscent of Michelangelo's Neo-Platonist ideas about beauty inside the block waiting to be discovered. I carved a detailed Head of Moses, it had dignity and a presence. I saw beyond that the vision of the Risen Christ and used tools to erase all surface details of Moses with the result looking for an other worldly beauty and mystery. I have been told that the features are perfect. I think that people are allowed to see what they see because the details are not so specific and therefore not limiting. Who wants to see a Photo Realistic Risen Christ? His body was glorified. The letter below by Laura Ferguson a parishioner bears this out. More about that below.

This is what I wrote in another post about how I was going to finish a marble Pieta begun in 2006. I see now, reviewing the finish of the Risen Christ that the idea began with it so many years before. It has taken me 13 years with the Pieta to leave the Virgin Mary clear in appearance, in our world, and to have the Christ look to be in a special different place signified by mystery.

I could not stand the detail and would undo the clarity and go for the mystery again and again. The beautiful marble allowed for that process to continue and indeed always called for more perfection and mystery. Doing the same thing for 13 years and expecting different results coincides with Einstein's idea of insanity. I did it like an artist, I expected the same results but hoped they would continue to look better. Apropos to carving one sculpture for13 years, Einstein said, "It's not that I am so smart, it's just that I stay with projects longer." Thematically, in this case, it all made sense that the corpus of the Pieta could be on the road to soon be a Risen Christ, and that requires extraordinary means.

  Pieta, Carrara Marble, life size, 2006 - 2018. in process, almost finished.

The Italian sculptor, Medardo Rosso, also in Paris with Rodin and Brancusi in 1906, made his most well known work, Ecce Puer. He put wax over plaster producing a special surface. Apparently he influenced Rodin toward an impressionism (small i) in sculpture.

  Ecce Puer, Medado Rosso

                                      Before and After, Moses becoming the Risen Christ                                                                                                                                                                         

                                             

The old Saint Zepherin's was a typical church from the end of the Nineteenth Century with stain glass windows and painted life size plaster statues of saints. They would not be called sculptures. The church was replaced by something that looked like a meeting hall. My marble carving method is a Renaissance one of  carving directly on the stone guided by drawings and maybe a small clay model. The commission was to make a Modern work to fit into the contemporary space. In the idea that I had for the Risen Christ I envisioned transforming the Renaissance like detail into something more simple. I had one foot in a Renaissance school of carving and the other in the twentieth century "Direct Carving" school. That is the church that I ran around in as a child and it formed my taste. Content and meaning were paramount.

It was an honor to do this in the church where I was an altar boy for the Latin Mass. I can close my eyes and see statues and the stained glass windows and Stations of the Cross.

My mother and her friend Grace Courchine were the Saint Zepherin's Altar Society and on Saturday Mornings they would replace the altar cloths and vacuum the rugs as I ran around the pews and studied the art.

In 2005 an artist friend from Boston stopped by my house in Gloucester, Ma and stayed over on his way to deliver paintings to a gallery in Maine. He had been to Rome to study to become a priest. They said no, and he did not proffer an explanation.  He loved then liturgy of the church, the music, the art, he was a Harvard grad and spoke perfect Italian and played every musical instrument ever invented. We talked into the night about faith. Finally he said you are just a sentimental Irish Catholic. I said, .... ..., My pastor was Otis F. Kelly a Harvard trained Psychiatrist who wrote a book called Marriage Morals and Medical Ethics, in the mid sixties, it is the Church's teaching about such to this day, and the basis for Saint Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body based on Genesis. My mother was Fr. Kelly's best friend and she made apple pies for him. My faith as a boy was based on the fact that he and my parents and a few priests and nuns where the smartest people that I knew and they had the most joy.

My friend said, oh, O.F, Kelly, we studied him in Rome at North American College. I concluded that they did not allow him to become a priest because he did not believe all that stuff. Fr. Kelly was eighty and he said weekday morning Mass and fasted and would sometimes faint. I knew when it was coming and Edwin Marston and I were on our knees at the base of the altar and I would nod to Eddy and we would walk on our knees to the center to catch Father Kelly.

from Father Paul Beraby:

                   Laura Ferguson was a very old parishioner of the parish in 1992 

 

Risen Christ, Imperial Danby Vermont Marble, life size,

SCULPTOR AT SAINT ZEPHERIN'S CHURCH, COCHITUATE, MASSACHUSETTS

Saint Zepherins Church is where I grew up. He was Pope Zephyrinus from 217 to 222 when he was martyred. He is buried in the Roman Catacomb of Saint Callixtus in a room with Saint Cornelius Pope from 251 to 253. Cornelius only lasted two years. In an imaginary interview I had with Saint Peter about Martyrdom I was asking him about his expression being crucified upside down in the Caravaggio painting.

 http://www.corneliussullivan.com/my_interview_with_saint_peter4.html

 I included this -

He (St Peter)continued, "So to conclude about martyrdom. Do you know that all but two, of the fifty two of my immediate successors as Bishop of Rome are saints, most were martyrs?"

I was proud to say, "I know, someone gave me a piece of paper on the street in 2005 with a list of all the popes. Typed in at the bottom was the name of the new pope. I have kept that list. It is well worn, I will tell you how I used it. Some years ago I did tours of the Vatican Museums. There was another docent who was saying that the museums were all about propaganda and the Church reifying its power. I was not content to read the interpretations of historians of what the place was about. I hoped that I could know for myself the reality behind the grand collection and the buildings. The key was the paper that I had saved. The place is built over the grave of the fisherman, you, and on the blood of the martyrs. When I showed it to visitors they noticed the capital "M", for martyr, after the names of the first popes, thirty three of them, often in office for a short time. Pope Cornelius made it for three years before he was murdered. I continued, Caravaggio painted many martyrdoms."