The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Moving art

Sculptor's works express faith

Enrich your summer by planning to look at some outdoor sculpture. You might even find it in places other than the expected sculpture gardens, museums or urban plazas — like a lawn in your neighborhood.

Pennsylvania sculptor Phil Thompson installed one of his favorite creations in the yard of a neighbor, who had the space and a setting that particularly suits the sculpture. Called Law and Gospel, the piece is 17 feet tall and 5 feet wide.

A member of Good Hope Lutheran Church, Oil City, Pa., Thompson specializes in kinetic sculpture--works that move. When stationary, this piece, rendered in stainless steel tubes, forms a grid of 10 spaces representing the Ten Commandments (below, left). When a breeze blows, the grid separates into pieces and reveals what Thompson describes as "the cross which is at the center of it all" (below, right). He's at work on another kinetic work titled In Christ.

In addition to studying art, Thompson spent several years as an industrial welder and fabricator. He's one of many artists who finds beauty in materials that are also used for practical purposes.

Like many artists, Thompson makes most of his living from doing something other than creating his works. He teaches art to young people, a challenge he enjoys. But he says he is also looking forward to the day when he can spend his full time sculpting the gospel.


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