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“You have to be patient,” Wilson said.

And you have to be quick.

“It dries very quickly. It turns hard as soon as you apply it,” explained Wilson, who studied sculpture and architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

For some of the works, he carves the wax “almost like it’s clay. That gives me different depths to the piece or different images that I want to portray,” he said.

His goal is to create something beautiful without disrupting the purity of the material.

A deeply religious man, Wilson said “A Path Through the Sky,” came as a sign from God during a particularly rough patch in his life. Speaking about it at his studio last week, Wilson choked up talking about it.

“God was telling me to let go and let him handle it. He said, `look up,’ and I looked up at the sky and I saw the image of what I created for the competition,” he said.

The 26-inch by 26-inch cratered white surface depicts clouds moving in a very textural, minimal direction with a 2- to 3-inch band of wax through the center designating a path.

“It came to me that we all have our different paths in life … We don’t know what today will bring, you just have to hold steadfast and get through it,” he said.

Guichard said Wilson’s story will resonate with viewers.

“There’s always a time and space where you feel it’s God’s push that keeps you going, helps you get through trials and tribulations,” he said. “‘A Path Through the Sky’” appropriately depicts that message that we can all relate to as viewers.”

It wasn’t the first time the artist faced a challenge.

Several years ago, unable to sell his work or pay the rent for a storage facility where he kept his artist’s tools and work, Wilson lived in a homeless shelter for 5 to 6 months. And perhaps worse, the contents of his storage unit were auctioned off by the facility owner.

Winning the competition was “part of God’s blueprint,” Wilson said, and the reason he signs all his work “In His Name.” It also is the title of his newest work, a 2-foot-by-2-foot square creation that has no texture but has text fused into the wax _ the words “In His Name” written in marker across the entire surface.

“It’s in him I get my concepts and titles … through scripture. And this work belongs to him because he gave it to me. No one has … ever done anything else to put it in my soul and in my heart other than him,” he said.

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