A close-up of Mary, part of a larger Mary and Joseph statue, is being prepared for the cathedral in Wichita, Kan.

CNS PHOTO | COURTESY RIP CASWELL

A close-up of Mary, part of a larger Mary and Joseph statue, is being prepared for the cathedral in Wichita, Kan.

March 5, 2012

The statues that will dominate the east and west transepts of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita, Kan., are taking shape.

Sculptor Rip Caswell was commissioned to create two heroic-size bronze sculptures.

One piece, Mary and Joseph, depicts a pregnant Mary with her hand on her womb and Joseph as a supportive father figure and husband standing behind her.

"We've made some bold departures with this piece," Caswell said in an interview.

Traditionally, Mary's pregnancy was hidden or portrayed as barely showing, he said.

Joseph has been characterized as older, benign and in the background.

"Culture and society have changed," he said.

Churches now want artistic works to be true to doctrine, but also "they want them to reflect a more genuine portrayal of life and of the things with which we can all relate.

Realism is back.

With this sculpture, we're celebrating Mary's pregnancy – we're celebrating motherhood.

We show Joseph as a strong, solid and protective man, very much in love with Mary."