Editor’s note: Part six of our seven-part Lenten series on the Stations of the Cross features the stations inside Nativity of Our Lord Church in Green Bay. Wayne Efferson, worship servant leader at Nativity, nominated the stations and the artist, Nancy Gezella, provided the following information.
As I began to incorporate my faith into my work, I looked to church traditions for inspiration. Even as a child, I have always felt a spiritual connection to the devotion of the Stations of the Cross, which is a depiction of the passion of Christ.
During my ministry as decorator of our church, I literally came in contact with the thorns which I used in these pieces. Gathering these thorns for the artwork became a labor of love, taking more than 12 hours to collect.
In this series, as in so much of my work, I start out working the process but then as the artwork develops, a deeper meaning is often revealed to me. In this case, my intent was to make 11,000 identical and perfectly square clay tiles and place them in the grids. I soon discovered that was impossible to do. It was then I realized that these clay tiles, which are the background and support for the stations, are representative of each of us, made of clay, no two alike, and none perfect.
At the time I started this series, I was working in different mediums, so I decided to use several of them to bring this series together. The backgrounds are clay, the round disks which form the crown of thorns are hard-shell gourds, and the paintings are done as icons using egg tempera. The entire series of 15 pieces took three years and several drops of blood to complete.
Gezella, a member of St. Francis Xavier Parish in De Pere, is a Wisconsin artist working in mixed media. After 10 years in corporate business, Gezella began a career as a full time studio artist in 1997. She started working with handmade paper in 1991 and added hard-shell gourds to her body of work in 1999. Gezella’s love for gardening and nature has influenced her work in both mediums. In 2007, in an effort to express her faith more fully through her art, Gezella began icon writing in egg tempera. The first showing of Gezella’s new body of work, “The Way of The Cross,” opened April 2011.