Obedience, Femininity, and Determination Dance: Raven Sculptor’s Stunning Holy Family
In a video for St. Benedict’s Abbey, sculptor Kate Marin, an alumnus of Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, provided an explanation of her sculptures of the Holy Family. The figures of Jesus, Mary and Joseph are imagined on the return journey from Jerusalem. The statues are in the Return to Nazareth Garden which is located in between at St. Benedict’s Abbey and the college near an overlook over the Missouri River known to students as “The Lookout,” where many students sought solace and peace overlooking the Missouri River. See the video above or watch it on YouTube here. A transcript of the video follows.
As a 2012 graduate of Benedictine College I understand how important The Lookout has been to so many people that have visited this campus and visited this special place that is St. Benedict’s Abbey. And so when I received this commission for this sculpture of the Holy Family to be placed in such a prominent part of campus, a place where so much time with the Lord has been spent, I really wanted to maintain that element of prayer and quiet contemplation.
I tried to sculpt Jesus in a way that would really invite the viewer in. He’s literally standing with his arm outstretched to you, beckoning you to come closer. He stretches his arm out in obedience to his mission towards us, toward saving us, but in this same moment he’s still obedient to Mary and Joseph. Something really important to the monks was to emphasize that. It was really the theme of obedience that was one of the most important themes for the monks to have represented in this space. So these two acts of obedience then stretch his arms out side to side, and he becomes almost cruciform and that was really intentional for me that I wanted to show that ultimate act of obedience that he would make for us on the cross.
With Mary there is so much that I wanted to say — about her motherhood, her femininity her relationship to Joseph as his spouse. But it’s really that mother-son relationship that first kind of pulls you into Mary. From Jesus, it’s her eyes that hopefully draw you towards her. And her eyes should always lead us to him, right? So there’s a dance that should happen all the time between the sculptures. We know from the scriptures that she had been in great anxiety for the last three days. She says so herself to Jesus. We also know in the scripture that she was keeping these things and pondering them in her heart. So we have this moment that her son — growing up, moving away form her in some sense, as he becomes a man and moves into his mission — has fallen behind on the path. This is only 10 feet, but Mary would have felt this distance in a massive way, I think.
In sculpting Joseph, the elements that were most important to me were sculpting him as himself as an individual and then him in the role of spouse and father. Joseph, he’s leading his family home. That’s something specific to his call as a man is to be a strong leader. They finally have Jesus and now Joseph is just determined, and I wanted you to feel that determination in his posture — determination to lead his family home safely.
There are so many was to come here and contemplate — whether it be the personality of Mary or the leadership with Joseph, or the childhood of Jesus, or this diversity shown amongst their features and faces, or the place itself, the beauty that is here and this journeying towards heaven ultimately; there’s a very heavenly theme here. The point is the Lord is always looking for a chance to encounter, to meet us, to take us just a little bit deeper.
I am so honored to be able to create these and to put them in such sacred ground here at the Abbey.
Read More: “Proclaiming Beauty: The Sculpture of Kate Marin.”