Paper Jesus Blesses Congregation at Fort Wayne Church

By Eric Olson

June 18, 2010 Updated Apr 18, 2008 at 11:07 AM EDT

In 32 years as a college art teacher John Sturmfels has worked with just about every art medium under the sun. And though he’s primarily a painter, John still calls on those special skills he picked up in the classroom, when the project he’s working on demands it. His latest project is an eight-foot tall paper Jesus now gracing the sanctuary of Concordia Lutheran Church on Lake Avenue, a gift from John to the congregation for this year’s Easter celebration.
“Knowing you’re working with paper here in this case it’s not going to lend itself to a lot of realism so you kind of work with a stylized realism,” John says.
The figure is jade entirely of paper and glue over a Styrofoam frame. The folds of the robe are so convincing they appear to be fabric. And the face, though highly stylized, is strong and wise and gentle. Concordia’s sanctuary boasts lovely stained glass windows but the room is essentially barren of statuary or holy imagery. John created a similar figure for his previous church in Michigan so he volunteered to do it again. The figure was unveiled to loud applause Easter morning.
“That’s very satisfying to hear people say this really meant a great deal to me to see it here and it enhanced our worship experience.”
As with anything paper the Jesus will not last. However brief its appearance on earth, though, this figure has impressed and inspired and brought the congregation closer to their god. A success by any definition, in any medium. This is Eric Olson reporting.




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