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Whale of a sculpture dedicated at church

COLUMBIA, S.C. (BP)–It may sound “fishy,” but Shandon Baptist Church now has a 1,500-pound whale in its outdoor baptistery.

A 9-foot-tall sculpture depicting the biblical story of Jonah and the whale was dedicated Dec. 2 by the Columbia, S.C., congregation.

Columbia native Robert Allison crafted what some have dubbed “a whale of a sculpture,” encompassing more than 125 bronze pieces welded together.

Dick Lincoln, pastor of Shandon, is making a concerted effort to incorporate various forms of religious art that tell biblical stories into the design of the church’s new facility. Shandon, which recently celebrated its centennial anniversary, commissioned the artwork last January.

“Our search for a world-class sculptor led us to Robert Allison,” Lincoln said. “We were attracted to his sculptures for the way he captured facial expressions and brought life to the art.”

Allison, a graduate of the University of South Carolina who now resides in Colorado, reportedly had something of a supernatural experience while crafting the sculpture for Shandon.

“Usually I work from a picture or if none is available, most of my faces look the same,” Allison said. “Obviously, I didn’t have a picture of Jonah. But as I worked on the piece, the face just came out and didn’t look like any other face I’ve ever sculpted.

“I’m pretty sure someone else guided my hands,” the artist said.

“I think it’s beautiful,” Lincoln remarked to a local television reporter after the sculpture’s dedication ceremony. “It tells me about the love of God, and I love seeing it.”
Todd Deaton is managing editor of the Baptist Courier, newsjournal of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, on the Web at www.baptistcourier.com.

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