Client: St. John of the Cross Catholic Church
Location: Western Springs, IL, United States
Completion date: 2018
Artwork budget: $60,000
Fr. David Dowdle
This sculpture depicts St. John of the Cross at a moment of inspiration. He is holding a crucifix in his left hand; he has turned his gaze from this muse to write a poem. He is portrayed barefoot and humbled and sits atop a rough-hewn block as might have been during his imprisonment. This piece is life size in cast bronze and sits on a mahogany granite base.
The clients for this project wanted St. John to be portrayed as a poet and a priest, not as a mystic (as he is most typically represented). They wanted a dynamic gesture, not a stoic pose. This piece was to inspire curiosity about the saint.
The first step of the process was an initial meeting with the client committee. We discussed the desired meaning, the setting, materials, and budget. I developed a clay sketch and sent digital images for critique. The committee approved of the initial sketch and the project was put under contract. The parish committee chose to open up the critique to the parishioners in the form of a questionnaire, this is an unusual step but they felt it was necessary. The majority of the feedback indicated approval, at which point the sketch was enlarged to full size. Once the clay was enlarged, photos were sent for final critique prior to casting. I do not recall any changes were requested so the piece was advanced to the casting process.