Brenda Angel has never had an art class, yet she created a stunning 16-foot statue of the crucifixion of Jesus that's been displayed across the nation. She said the idea came to her in a dream when she was in college.
"I was watching Jesus being crucified. I heard, 'I want you to sculpt what I just showed you,' and I woke up," Angel recalled. "Every night I'd have the dream. Every night, every night, every night, the same dream. It was like I just had to do this. Like an urgency. I need clay in my hands now."
Angel asked a professor in the art department of her school for help.
"He turned around and he said, 'You can only use that clay in this room. You can't take any home and don't ask me anything. I will not help you build an armature,'" she continued. "So I said, 'What's an armature?' And he laughed at me. He said, 'You see, you're not going to be able to do this.'"
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Despite the resistance and her lack of training, Angel pressed on. She began with the rib cage. Two weeks later, the art professor checked on her progress.
"I took the plastic bag off it and his smile left. And he didn't have a joke. And he said, 'You're a child prodigy, but you're an adult. You're an adult child prodigy. I've been sculpting for over 20 years and I still can't do the human form,'" Angel said.
For over a decade, she labored to create her vision of Jesus' crucifixion -- His face swollen and body beaten.
"I knew that it had to be larger than life because I wanted it to impact people the way the dream impacted me," Angel said. "The look in His eyes, the amount of love in His eyes. And it was. I can't explain in words the way He looked in the dream."
Because of its vast size, each piece of Jesus' body had to be sculpted separately. When the time came for Angel to assemble her creation, she was amazed.
"All of the muscles and every thing just lined up. It was a miracle. And just stuck it on there, it was all perfect. It was totally God-ordained. He directed my hands," she explained.
Angel called the sculpture "Lamb of God." It has been displayed across America, from Texas to New York City. This Easter season, the sculpture can be seen at Crossroads Community Church in Mannford, Okla.
"Easter to me is very important. It's Him being God all over the place, coming out of the grave and being alive and healing us," Angel said. "It's just knowing that no matter what goes on around you, that you are always loved by God and you always have a place and no one can ever take that away from you.
"The Bible says the peace of God passes all understanding. But His love is even so much more," she added. "And I still don't have words to express it."
--Published April 21, 2011.