It is not easy to speak of a piece of art analytically. Art is created primarily from the heart not the head. With religious art the process of creation is one of prayer--- a deep listening for the Holy Spirit's promptings and leadings.
The idea for the sculpture of the angel as street person began originally as an angel tending the feet of the suffering Jesus. Jesus is God in solidarity with those who suffer. Eventually a sleeping homeless person replaced Jesus in the imagined scene. An angel sat by the sleeper, watching over him. And finally the angel became the street person.
It is more useful for viewers to see the sculpture and experience what it means, rather than reading some explanation of what it means. Even the artist is not fully in control of the finished work. The art takes on a life of its own.
One can speak of how the figure was constructed. It is papier mache over chicken wire, painted with acrylics. The hair is a wig, augmented with the golden curls of a little four year old friend. The wings are fabric and artificial feathers sewn on cotton over a papier mache form. The shoes are Rev Harold Munn's (St John the Divine) old runners. His shoes were chosen out of respect for his dedication to the city's Task Force on Homelessness. Thanks are due also to his wife Claire for her advice on the use of the fabric.
The angel's hands lie open. He possesses nothing, except perhaps the bracelet on his wrist. The bracelet is from one of the organizations supporting AIDS orphans in Africa. The bracelet takes its name from a Xhosa word meaning “a deeper understanding of what being human is all about”. I turned this around to ask the question, “What does it mean to be a human being”.
-Sara Chu, artist