“This is why the Church honors the angels, because they are the ones who will be in the glory of God – they are in the glory of God – because they defend the great hidden mystery of God – namely, that the Word was made flesh.” – Pope Benedict XVI
Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael are honored today – or yesterday, by the time this posts. Back in the day, it was Michaelmas, feast of St. Michael. The oldest church in our vicariate has a huge window depicting Michael battling Satan in the form of a dragon, as described in Revelation 12 (aka The Apocalypse!). It’s majestic and cool at the same time.
This is one of my angel sculptures that I kept. This was in my Pain-staking Underglaze Period, which meant a single sculpture took almost four months from preliminary sketch to final glaze.
My first statue looked nothing like this. I created a thick mound of clay for the head so that I could carve a three-quarter view face from it. Then I sculpted individual feathers and attached them to the wings so that no two were alike. I glazed it in a rich blue that was deeper and darker in the grooves than on the relief. I gave it to my parents one Christmas, and they really like it. My final sculpture also looked nothing like this, being a flatter yet more brightly-colored angels. In-between I made some that were abstract and others that were allegorical.
If you ask why I started sculpting angels, I couldn’t tell you. Certainly I never felt very comfortable about the New Age artwork I see here and there (although I have a fondness for angel Christmas ornaments made by children). In fact, I was embarrassed by some depictions because let’s face it: angels are pure intellect so any art depicting them is not only meta-figurative but probably pretty lame.
(An aside: I wonder if angels view our art like an adult does when a child presents a portrait done in macaroni – “Oh, how pretty!” knowing full well we’ll accidentally throw it out when we clean out our room – or burn down our civilization – again!)
At any rate, I went from hand-sculpted bowls to angels in a single leap. I sold only one sculpture, on the insistence of a friend who wanted to give it to a neighbor of hers. The majority – I would guess about ten – I gave away as I felt compelled. I gave the last one to one of my godchildren.
Last year, I simply stopped. I knew I was done just as surely as if someone took my macaroni and glue away. As I told my friend/teacher Carolyn, “I’m done for now or for good – I’m not sure which.”