I was delighted and honored to be asked to build an altar cross for St. Mark's Episcopal Church's newly-renovated sanctuary. The Church was decommissioning their large wall-hung cross to make room for a new stained-glass rose window, and needed a cross that would fit into their newly-built reredo.
Without really meaning to, this project ended up being an intensely personal one. I hope you'll bear with me.
The church itself was built in 1939, and is reflective of the Arts-and-Crafts style of that era: huge timber-frame ceiling beams, lots of windows. Much of the discussion centered on the the physical experience of the being in the church: entering from the back, and seeing the cross at the front. My hope was that the carved quatrefoil would be a focal point for the entire space; it would be both a point of interest (and mystery) to draw viewers in, while simultaneously representing a sort of starting point - a place from which everything else radiates.
After our initial meeting, I kept going back to this idea of a focal point. It seemed like it should be, for lack of a better term, quiet. Somehow the Big Bang kept swirling in my mind. But what can you say at the beginning of the Universe, the center of this thing? Shout? Whisper? It seems like maybe the best thing to do is to be quiet.
I chose English Brown Oak for this project because a) it seemed like it would be a good fit for the Arts-and-Crafts style of the church, and b) I thought it would look nice.
Krenov, I'm told, had a saying: "Wood like this doesn't grow on trees." Seeing and working with this oak, I had the same sort of feeling I do when I see my son: whatever is out there, the universe cannot be an accident. Our world is too beautiful for it to exist completely by chance.
My hope with all of my work is that, with care, each piece will last several hundred years. However this was the first piece where I really had a sense of what exactly that might mean; this wasn't something that might be passed down for a generation or two and forgotten about. As far as I know, the church has every intention of using this cross for the next hundred years. The work needed to live up to it.