About the Artist
Timothy Schmalz has been sculpting large-scale sculptures for more than 25 years. A figurative artist based out of Ontario, Canada, he desires to create artwork that not only engages viewers emotionally, but also allows them to feel like an integral part of each piece. To this end, Schmalz has designed several life-sized pieces that invite viewers literally to ‘step into’ the artwork, including The Last Supper, Hebrews 13:2 and Homeless Jesus. (See photos below.) In a very sacramental way, the life-sized sculptures become sacred gateways through which people can pass to access not only history but also their own spirituality.
“Sometimes the text has been read so many times that it has become worn down, and it isn’t as sharp or legible as it used to be,” Schmalz said. “Art allows for the expression of our faith and its eternal truths in new and diverse ways that help us understand and ‘see’ these truths again.”
According to Schmalz, Christian artwork also provides an effective alternative for evangelizing today’s congested world, which is riddled with busy schedules and short attention spans that rely on insufficient sound bites.
“Our contemporary culture is inundated with words and activity,” he said. “Christian sculpture provides another option – it's like a visual sermon 24 hours a day.”
While Schmalz also creates large public monuments honoring veterans and firefighters, most of his work has a spiritual theme. His desire and devotion to create artwork that glorifies Christ derives from his conviction that an artist needs an epic subject to create epic art.
"I realize that I am between two things that are much more durable than myself: Christianity and bronze metal," he said. "It is between these that I have developed a subtle appreciation for what St. Francis meant by instrument."
For Schmalz, sculpture is not art for art’s sake, but for the sake of spreading the tenets and principles of Christianity, which are predicated on Jesus’ mandate to love one another. Christian art, he believes, has both the ability and responsibility to communicate this mandate in a universal language, which he characterizes as the ‘artistic welcome.’ According to Schmalz, however, the opportunity to create art that addresses, invites and welcomes all is too often rejected or totally ignored.
“If someone walks into a church and all the congregants say, ‘You’re welcome here!’, but the person doesn’t see themselves represented in the art, then that really isn’t the case, is it?” Schmalz challenged. “I love the European representations of Christian artwork and the pieces produced by the great masters, but it can’t be all. There has to be room for the Other.”
For Schmalz, Catholic Christian artwork needs to do a better job of being a visual ambassador for the faith.
“We should be reading great theology and really examining the life of the saints,” he suggested. “There’s so much rich history with the Catholic Church, but oftentimes you wouldn’t know it by the artwork that’s being done. It should have much more attention brought to it, and I’m trying to change that.”
Other Religious Artwork by Timothy Schmalz
The Last Supper
St. Thomas Aquinas
Let the Oppressed Go Free