Jesus is taken down from the cross

Tom Henihan
Express Staff

The traveling sculpture exhibit “The One Called Jesus” visited McLennan on April 22 and 23, having stopped in Peace River and Falher before moving on to High Prairie for seven days and Slave Lake for an additional 5 days.

The exhibit is into the third year of a five-year tour of Alberta schools, churches and other Catholic and Christian institutions.

Sister of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin member, Sister Thérèse Turcotte, curates the collection, created by Kapuskasing born artist Maurice Gaudreault.

The five-year tour of the province began in St. Albert and when the tour of the north is finished, the exhibit will then visit communities in southern Alberta.

“We started in St. Albert, which is the oldest mission in Alberta, taking the exhibit to their schools and visiting remote communities such as Bonnyville and Cold Lake,” says Sister Thérèse. “We then spent seven weeks in Fort McMurray.”

The mobile exhibit moved to Edmonton from Kitchener approximately 3 years ago and travels to provincial towns and communities from its base in the city.

“We chose to visit the remote communities first on purpose, as a gift, because I can always do Edmonton later,” says Sister Thérès. We wanted to make sure that people from remote communities would have an opportunity to see it, especially the schools,” says Sister Thérèse.

All the pieces in the fifty-piece exhibit were hand crafted by Maurice Gaudreault who, along with creating “The One Called Jesus,” created over 1000 pieces, depicting farming and rural life.

A remarkable accomplishment, considering that Gaudreault did not discover his artistic talent until he was fifty years old and that he was diagnosed with leukemia at age sixty-six and passed away approximately two years later.

When he learned he had leukemia, Gaudreault decided to create “The One Called Jesus,” as he told a friend, “to thank God for a good life.”

The One Called Jesus exhibit depicts the childhood, miracles and the scenes of mercy on one side and displays the events of Holy Week, the passion of Christ, on the other side of the display case mounted in the tractor-trailer.

“The older kids when they come to see the art works they say it is like walking through the gospels, which is quite fascinating,” says Sister Thérèse.

When speaking about the exhibit, Sister Thérèse is enthusiastic and offers valuable insights into the artistic merits and religious relevance of the pieces.

She points out the visual references and symbols that are consistent through the collection such as white doves that appear in many of the pieces, presumably representing the Holy Spirit.

She talks about the expression on the faces of the figures that convey the disposition and emotion of the characters and how the positioning of the figures and the composition of the scenes are consciously created to offer Gaudreault’s personal, artistic interpretations of the biblical scenes.

“Many fellow artists visit the exhibition and they are always impressed with the quality of Gaudreault’s firing of the clay, the colours and the detail.”

“The One Called Jesus” exhibit visited High Prairie schools and churches from April 24 to April 30.

It will be in Slave Lake from May 1 to May 7, spending two days at the high school, two days at the grade school and two at the local churches.