This Is She is a continuing series of relief portraits of women from diverse ethnic backgrounds; it is a reflection on female identity and western societal standards of beauty. I have met each of these women, and tried to depict them in a way that honors their dignity as individual women and communicates something of their identity beyond physical features. Each of the sculptures in the series is entitled This Is She in order to emphasize the subjects’ individual identities.
“This Is She makes me stand up straighter. It shows the many different forms that beauty takes. I feel like these pieces show more than just the physical beauty. There’s a different kind of strength, peace, defiance, joy, even subtle pain in each. Which is also what it means to embody womanhood and humanity and the image of God.”
-- Megan Othling, author and women’s advocate
For information about commissioning a relief portrait please contact the artist.
be warmed, be filled
“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no works? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well, keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs what good is it?” James 2:14-16. Inspired by James 2:16, this piece depicts an Afghan mother and her daughter who have been displaced as a result of the wars being waged in their homeland.
After Jacob wrestled with the angel of Lord, he called the place Peniel because he said, “I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved” (Genesis 32:30). Several years ago I read a memoir by Madeleine L’Engle in which she talks about Jacob’s battle with the angel. She writes that Jacob was marked forever by his encounter with God, and that the same should be true of all believers. This piece became a sort of icon to me; as I created it I meditated on what it means to be marked by Christ.
work in progress
This series has a half life size sculpture and two small sculptures. I created them in response to a dear friend’s miscarriage, in an effort to “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). They show intense grief from the perspectives of a man and a woman. The pose of the female figure is particularly difficult physically, as she wraps herself in her arm so tightly, but it is the position I returned to again and again as I imagined the agony of losing a child. The male figure is also curled in upon himself, gripping the edge of the cliff he is crouching on. Both figures are nude and bald in their vulnerability; the woman cradles her head and the man seems to stifle a cry.
beside still waters
This piece is inspired by the 23rd Psalm and is meant to communicate the contentment, security, and peace that comes from being aware of the faithfulness of God.
This sculpture is one of my most explicitly Christian pieces, and a very personal one. The composition changed several times. At first I had his head down and his arms raised higher, hands apart. Gradually the pose you see now emerged. This is the first in what I hope to be a series on the Lord’s Prayer, and it is based on the familiar first line, “Give us this day our daily bread.” These words acknowledge that we depend on God for even our most basic needs. I wanted the figure’s pose to show humility and dependence; but his gaze is up because he is confident that God will faithfully provide. Beyond physical bread, I also wanted to call to mind the spiritual nourishment that we receive through the Eucharist, so the position of the hands echoes the way our hands are held when we are receiving the bread for the Lord’s Supper.
Utilizing the motif of the Pieta, which traditionally shows the Virgin Mary holding her son, Jesus, after he has been taken down from the cross, this piece depicts a Sudanese woman holding her son, dead as a result of the war and genocide in their country. I replaced Mary and Jesus in the sculpture because, as Jesus says in Matthew 25:35-45, “as you did to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” I hope to encourage us all to look beyond the comforts of our own lives and consider the suffering being endured by our brothers and sisters around the world.
The wall separating a North American man from an African woman and her baby represents AIDS. The figures are a part of the wall, connected to it, partially trapped within it, and yet it isolates them from each other. The inscription on one side of the wall reads, “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation. Rachel weeping for her children. She refuses to be comforted for they are no more” from Jeremiah 31:15 and Matthew 2:18. On the other side of the wall is written, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” from Matthew 22:39 and Mark 12:31.
Inscribed in Greek on the back of this statue are the words of Romans 7:24b, the translation of which is, “Who will save me from this body of sin and death?” Here a female figure is draped in funerary clothes, representing man’s spiritual condition before he is called by the Holy Spirit to new life in Jesus Christ.
This project was commissioned by All Saints Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas. I created the bowl and artisan Hawkeye Glenn created the base.
Retrospect (Jack) is a portrait of my late grandfather. I chose this expression to show how tender he had become in his later life, as well as the weight of grief over his past. He understood the preciousness of Christ’s forgiveness. In the words of my mother, “He was my greatest answered prayer. He was the answer to a child’s lifetime of prayer. I loved my daddy and never, never doubted his broken but true love of me.”
Becoming is a portrait of my eldest daughter when she was twelve years old. She seemed to be a child one moment, a young woman the next. I could see the beautiful woman she was becoming, but the soft turn of her cheek gave me a flash of her childhood self. I was impressed by the in-between character of adolescence and I wanted to capture her at this fleeting time in her life.
Job 7:11 says, “I will not keep silent; I will speak out the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”
This work in progress grew out of a very difficult personal time. It became for me a meditation on doubt as an important part of faith.