Some Thoughts- The Process, The Chair

Continuing our work on the Praying Man for Dallas Baptist University. You can find their project blog on Blogspot.

I love this view. No one will ever see it.

Before the final date of reviewing the sculpture I jotted down some of my thoughts. I sent them to the DBU and thought I would share them here.

To: Dr. Gary Cook, Dr. J. Blair Blackburn, and Shannen Smith
Gentlemen,Thank you for this opportunity to work on this project for Dallas Baptist University. This was the crunch time. It was essential to get this sculpted as quickly as possible so that the sculpture could go into the foundry process. We had a dedicated team working on the job. We had interns from two colleges and one high school student along and three assistant sculptors.

Even with such a time crunch, creativity and education are motivations behind each sculpture. I thought you would be pleased to know that your piece was an excellent learning process for our group. I am elated with the commitment, compassion and the creation completed in less than 30 days.


As soon as I can catch my breath a bit, and the sculpture is at the foundry. I will be documenting the work that was done with pictures. I’ll do this on a private blog where you can see the process. We can make it public after the unveiling. I did want to share some of my thoughts, prayers and what I feel are creative revelations as I proceeded with the piece.

You have a “God given talent”, people say. I humbly agree that the passion that comes from my hands is greater than the human artist. My creative process is one filled with revelation. I feel the Holy Spirit speaks to my heart, and somehow that Spirit comes through my hands. I wanted to share a bit of that with you, as well as the pictures that you requested I send before you come.After approval, it will take a week to get the sculpture through the beginning of the foundry process. To do this we need to cut the man and chair into about 10-15 pieces. At this time, we work on some more detail and smoothing. It is a lot easier smoothing the underside of something when it is a small piece and flipped on a table as you sit upright rather than reaching around appendages or balancing upside down.

If you would like to familiarize yourself with the foundry process here is a link where I have documented it for others- Mold making and finishing
Originally, when I spoke with Shannen Smith about creating this sculpture on such a tight deadline, the plan was to visit stores in Houston and find the appropriate chair. That way I did not have to worry about sculpting a chair and only needed to focus on the man. However, we all know that the chair became a sentimental and important aspect for DBU.

I must admit, that if you were to suggest a rocker before we started I would have said it was not a good design idea. The arms of the chair would hide what is happening, and be a visual distraction. I fell in love with Dr. Cook’s rocker after seeing it.

Someone at DBU asked me what rockers mean to me. They have so much meaning. When I was young, everyone had a rocking chair in his or her home. It was where your parents comforted you, read you stories at night, taught you, and listened to you. I recently said to my daughter, who is now pregnant with her child, “You need a rocker, something with arms that will help you to hold and cradle your baby in the wee hours.” That is what I did with her.

I picture this praying man resting his bible on the arms of this chair as he searches the Word and contemplates them in his heart.

I have a wicker rocking chair on the porch of my studio. This is my favorite place of meditation. I rock and look at my pond and wait for God to speak to my heart.It is safe to say that I have an emotional involvement with Dr. Cook’s rocking chair. It is a good thing I am invested in the rocking chair, because recreating the rocking chair was as much work as creating the man. We had an entire “team” working on just the rocker.The pieces were at first, created separately. I knew what I wanted, and could see them together in my mind, but I could hardly wait to put them together, to unite praying man with the rocker.

I realized some things after the man was added to the rocker• Though I feared the arms of the chair would distract from the sculpture, once I placed the man, I realized they cradled him.

• This space between the arms was a physical representation of his prayer closet.

• This is the same place he will sit later waiting and listening for God to speak to his heart.

• Though it was extremely difficult to reach inside this area, the place, smooth, and sculpt, I had the feeling it was a sacred space.

I am sorry we lost the view of the man through the back. I’m sending it in this correspondence. It is one of my favorite views, but again, an intimate glance into a special place of a man and his God.Technical note: There are dowels in the lower half of the back of the chair that is visible in these pictures as well as screw holes. These will not be in the bronze version. They are necessary to disassemble the chair for the mold making process. Please try to overlook these. We also did not have access to a lathe to put the detail in front of the chair. If I can do this in the wax I will, but with the time crunch I may have to let this go.

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