Traditional crucifix sculpted for Newman College chapel

Gregory Furmanczyk provides a traditional depiction of Jesus in the crucifix he has sculpted for the Newman Theological College chapel.

PHOTO SUPPLIED | GREGORY FURMANCZYK

Gregory Furmanczyk provides a traditional depiction of Jesus in the crucifix he has sculpted for the Newman Theological College chapel.

August 20, 2012
CHRIS MILLER
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

EDMONTON – Unlike many sculptures displayed in churches depicting the anguish and torment of Christ's crucifixion, the new one at Newman Theological College shows a more loving, redemptive Jesus.

Toronto artist Gregory Furmanczyk was commissioned by Archbishop Richard Smith to sculpt the crucifixion.

The sculpture arrived at the college Aug. 13, and will be officially unveiled this fall. It will be in full view on the wall of the college chapel.

"They wanted something traditional, as opposed to these modern sculptures which are constructed sometimes with features that are more abstract," said Furmanczyk.

"With mine, they knew from the beginning that they would get a very traditional cross, with concepts that go back to the Renaissance."

The crucifix is a corpus of hardened plaster, and projects peacefulness and mysticism. It is similar in some respects to Michelangelo's Pieta.

Taking some artistic licence, Furmanczyk did not include some elements seen in many other crucifixion images. For example, Furmanczyk did not incorporate the crown of thorns.

"The crown of thorns, I don't object to it. It is a very important symbol, and artists from the beginning have relied on this symbol. But you shouldn't be cornered into using a symbol every time," he said.

Some images of Jesus portray him as 45 or 50 years old, whereas Furmanczyk points out that he was barely 30 at the time of his crucifixion.

YOUTHFUL JESUS

"I make sure that Jesus looks young, and that's one of the reasons why the beard is so short. It emphasizes youth," said Furmanczyk.

The sculpture is also meant to illustrate Jesus as embracing all people who stand in front of it. Looking at the face of Christ, one will see him as a loving, innocent lamb being led to a final act of redemption.

"Everyone who looks at him, they can make up their own story. If they want to think about what a great suffering, that's good.

"If they want to think about the love that is pouring out of this statue, then that is what they will feel too."

Furmanczyk took vocational art courses in Ottawa and is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art. He sculpts and paints religious works, a labour of love that he finds "overwhelming and spiritually fulfilling."