Professor Emeritus of Art Lyle Novinski designed a sculpture of St. Martin de Porres for Holy Cross Catholic Church in Dallas that was exhibited at the University of Dallas Haggerty Art Gallery last Wednesday.
Novinski spoke eagerly of the design of the sculpture and the work that went into its creation.
“My studio partner, [my]youngest son David, and I pieced together the needed technology to fabricate a full-sized figure,” Novinski said in an email. “As the figure is clothed in a Dominican habit, courtesy of [UD Chaplain] Fr. Don Dvorak, the body shape would be largely concealed, but the body language and stance would be subtly but forcibly communicated through the drapery of the fabric.”
St. Martin de Porres was a 16th-century Dominican brother, born in Lima, Peru to a Spanish nobleman and a native woman.
He was known especially for his healing skills and his love for God’s creation, and is the patron of all who seek interracial and communal harmony — appropriate for a parish that has always had a great deal of ethnic diversity.
Novinski lovingly described the details and pose of the sculpture as a kind of capstone project for his work at Holy Cross.
“We chose to pose St. Martin in an pose of action that is both invitation and giver,” Novinski said. “The content is carried in the body language, slightly leaning forward, slightly contraposto, and with two gesturing hands, one bearing a small bowl, and the other open handed with an indication of beckoning.”
The creation of his sculpture does not mark the first time he has worked with the parish community.
“About 35 years ago I was asked by Pastor Fr. Timothy Gollob to advise on the renovation of an elementary school, cafeteria and library into a suitable worship place,” Novinski said.
His design included new platforms, risers for the choir, lighting, a new glazed entry and doors, and reorienting the room in a different direction, opening up a brick wall for a good entrance, closing up an old entrance and designing furniture for the new sanctuary.
Novinski counseled the parish community to complete the renovation themselves, firstly because it would be much more cost-effective.
“For about six months we demolished walls, laid up brick in new ways, rescued every board, and cleaned bricks for supplies to use in the renovation,” Novinski said. “Every board of the demolition found a use in the new format. And the ethnic mix of the parish joined in mutual labor to the benefit of the project and the social interaction within the community.”
Since then, Novinski was asked to return and design the sculpture of St. Martin, which will occupy a shrine which matches another, dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
As of Saturday, Oct. 31 the sculpture rests in its shrine at Holy Cross.