Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 20, 2004
Carving honours God's blessing
Polish born craftsman turns his talent into a celebration for his Lord
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Bruno Stasiak has always been a spiritual man who enjoys painting landscapes and portraits. But not until the electrical engineer began carving religious icons did he sense God flow through him like a warm current.
While a hammer and chisel are the only tools he uses, Stasiak feels he is an instrument chosen to create his latest work - a large wood sculpture destined for St. Luke's Parish in Calgary.
"Sometimes I cry when I am carving. I am surprised I can do it," said Stasiak, 61. "It is a blessing. I think it would be a sin if I did not do this for someone else."
Stasiak has created a life-sized grouping of figures, depicting a mother with her child and an ill beggar, who have gathered before St. Luke in Palestine. Stasiak intended to make the patron of physicians and surgeons appear friendly and approachable.
Carved from blocks of basswood, the sculpture is in several pieces with a combined weight of about 300 kg. It took Stasiak 10 months to complete.
The child seems surprised while the woman expresses hope. Luke is touching the shoulder of the sick man who is bandaged, dressed in tattered clothing and leaning on a crutch. He seems to be suddenly filled with strength. It is a moment depicting profound healing.
"The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor," is inscribed around the sculpture's base.
Stasiak said he has created eight sets of Stations of the Cross currently on display in Alberta. He has also made several statues and crucifixes. He considers the St. Luke statue his greatest work.
Stasiak has a particular interest in the Passion, starting with the Last Supper to the Resurrection.
"I feel like I am in that place; in the garden. Sometimes it is very tiring. I feel like I am in step with Jesus," he said.
John Paul celebrated Mass
Originally from Krakow, Poland, Stasiak was raised in a Roman Catholic family. He used to attend Mass celebrated by the future pope.
"In my parish on Christmas Eve, Pope John Paul - when he was first a bishop and then a cardinal - always celebrated Mass. Maybe 100,000 people stood outside. He used to say the place was like Bethlehem - cold and dark with people gathered around. It was very special."
Stasiak is also a draftsman. He uses his skills to calculate form and space so that no one needs to pose for him. He creates the image of a face from his mind. He realizes doing so is using the gifts God has provided him.
"I enjoy painting portraits and landscapes, but religious figures came only when I began carving," he said. "My first sculpture, entitled Crucified Jesus, was donated to Our Lady Queen of Poland (Parish) in Edmonton in 1990."
Stasiak lost his first wife of 33 years, Alicja, six years ago to cancer. She used to play a major role in helping him with his carving - she would read to him from the Bible while he worked.
"She read about the Passion, or a story about the saints," he said. "We were deeply religious."
Stasiak said the recent carving was a challenge in order to create four unique images. He began with the child, thinking it would be the most difficult to complete. The carving took place mostly in his garage, but also in the kitchen of the home he shares with his second wife, Malgorzata.
"I have my own feelings about my work because each project feels like my own child," he said.
The carving is to be sent to Calgary and assembled early in 2005.
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