- Associated Press - Monday, December 14, 2015

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Cornerstone University has unveiled a large, stainless steel sculpture by renowned artist Albert Paley, the latest addition to the university’s new $14 million Christ Chapel.

The sculpture, which is mounted to a wall, depicts the “transformational claims of Jesus,” and contains biblical symbols such as the Star of Bethlehem, the Good Shepherd and the cross. Titled “Let There Be Light,” the sculpture is 12 feet tall and 25 feet wide and is made up of 37 individual pieces, each weighing between 100 and 400 pounds.

“The sculpture symbolically deals with the iconography and the metaphor related to the life of Christ and the journey it has taken,” said Paley, who created the sculpture at his studio in Rochester, New York.

The sculpture cost just under $500,000 to create, ship to Michigan and install at the university, Cornerstone President Joseph Stowell told The Grand Rapids Press ( https://bit.ly/1O5CPKw ). The expense was funded by donors.

Stowell said the sculpture brings to campus and the community “very important reminders of the work that Christ has done for us.”

“I think it’s so easy to forget,” he said, “and get caught up in everything going on around us. To be able to stop and pause and look at this and to see the sense that he is the light of our lives.”

Paley, who holds an endowed chair at the Rochester Institute of Technology and whose sculptures can be seen at major museums in the U.S. and abroad, said the sculpture took him and his team of skilled welders, finishers and painters about a year to complete.

Each piece was packaged and shipped individually and, according to the university, was mounted on 83 studs anchored in the chapel’s north wall. The sculpture’s title was inspired by the bible passage John 8:12, which states, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”

Paley said it’s up to each viewer to draw meaning from the sculpture.

“This work is for the Cornerstone community and for the chapel, so really it’s the response that it has with the viewer,” he said. “No matter what I would think or feel when I created it, the reality is through the person’s eyes.”

He added: “One thing interesting with the symbolism and the metaphor is that these are symbols over 2,000 years old that have been used through Christianity, and people have their various interpretations of them, and that’s what kind of personalizes the experience.”

Stowell said art such as Paley’s sculpture add to the vitality of the campus.

“We believe that art in our community brings an important dynamic for our students and for our community in terms of expanding their sense of culture and their appreciation of things that really reflect the image of God in us,” he said. “God is a very creative individual.”


Information from: The Grand Rapids Press, https://www.mlive.com/grand-rapids

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