Ontario (kath.net/pl) "Christianity is a hardcore religion, I think the art needs to reflect this", says the Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz in the kath.net-Interview. His most famous piece of art is the bronze sculpture "Homeless Jesus".
kath.net: Mr Schmalz, is the "Homeless Jesus" something special for you?
Schmalz: Yes I would consider the work my masterpiece. I have been sculpting Jesus for more than 20 years and this work is putting the core ideas of the Gospel on the streets of cities world-wide. It also inspired several other works that are currently being created for some of the most sacred areas of Rome, including St. Peter in Chains Church.
kath.net: You created the "Homeless Jesus" - so deeply connected with Pope Francis´ basics - before the Pope´s election, inspired by a forlorn homeless person in Toronto. Looking at Pope Francis´ charisma and focus on mercy I wonder about a prophetic impact on your statue. Do you see a link there, too?
Schmalz: Yes, I do believe artwork is “Born” for a specific time.
Today the rich are richer than ever, the poor are poorer than ever. It is through this widening gap that the Homeless Jesus has fallen down on city streets to remind us that all human life is sacred.
kath.net: Are you yourself a practicing Christian? Jesus Christ - who do you believe He is?
Schmalz: Yes I am a Christian. My idea of Jesus is not focussed on the Historical rather the saviour that has saved humanity from itself. We constantly are at threat of devouring ourselves, violence and hate are real. Only Christ can prevent us from this death, personally or as a society as a whole.
kath.net: Where do you personally find spiritual nurture and inspiration?
Schmalz: Through the Gospels. I have been listing to the King James everyday for more than a year. Rene Girrard is another great inspiration to me and my family.
kath.net: To create, "to give birth", to such bronze sculptures, some of them really huge, is hard physical work. But is it a spiritual process, too? Do you also connotate words like "contemplation" or "prayer" or the Benedictine "ora et labora" (pray and work) with it?
Schmalz: Yes I have a very broad definition of what prayer is. I think that is healthy. To consider prayer only something that can be done in Church limits one’s spirituality. Preach everywhere you go and if necessary even use sculpture.*
kath.net: Where do you see the challenges of contemporary Christian art?
Schmalz: To create work that is not invisible. Christianity has been sculpted for more than 2000 years. The challenge comes when the artists seeks the blind spots, the areas where artist never went.
I think we artists have a lot more freedom then the artists of past generations.
The very artwork that I dislike, the crazy abstract stuff ironically has allowed me the absolute freedom to create with no boundaries. Christianity is a hardcore religion, I think the art needs to reflect this.
*Schmalz refers to a teaching of Saint Frances of Assisi: "Preach everywhere you go and if necessary even use words."
Link: Timothy Schmalz´ homepage.
Timothy Schmalz explains St. Padre Pio Clay Model
'Homeless Jesus:' the new statue installed in the Vatican
2015: Pope Frances blessed a medium-size sculpure of the "Homeless Jesus"
Foto (c) Timothy Schmalz