Mississippi College

Gore's Jesus Sculpture Delights MCSOL Audience

June 18, 2009

Sam Gore's newest masterpiece attracted art patrons, legal scholars, students and scores of other admirers of his craft to the Mississippi College School of Law.

On a steamy June day, nearly 100 Mississippians delivered their unanimous verdict: they judged his 3,000-pound sculpture of Jesus and his disciples to be magnificent. Gore's 12-foot-tall bronze is the companion piece to his "Moses the Lawgiver" that's on display on an exterior wall at the downtown Jackson law school.

"It is a fabulous piece of work," commented retired federal judge Charles Pickering, a Jackson attorney. "I was greatly impressed."

So was Mississippi Arts Commission Executive Director Malcolm White, who heaped praise upon the internationally celebrated artist and 1951 Mississippi College graduate. "This is a magnificent and inspired piece," he said during remarks at dedication ceremonies Wednesday afternoon. "Congratulations to Mississippi College on this amazing project."

But in typical Gore fashion, the former MC art department chairman, refused to take credit for his two-year labor of love. "This is not about me," Gore said before leading the gathering in prayer. He credits God for giving him his gifts as an artist. He applies those remarkable gifts to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. The Texas native says he's "placed my life in God's hands" and he's "intent on following His will in my life."

While temperatures sizzled in the mid-90s, Gore demonstrated the power of his faith at the June 17 dedication as he molded the face of Jesus Christ out of clay. The sounds of "Amazing Grace" and other sacred music played on the loudspeaker at the Mississippi College School of Law Courtyard.

Speakers including Mississippi College President Lee Royce and MC School of Law Dean Jim Rosenblatt welcomed Gore, family members and friends to the occasion to unveil "Christ: The Fulfillment of the Law."

Gore stated it best in the program. "The title and primary statement of this sculpture is the central message of the Sermon on the Mount which begins with Matthew 5:1, "and seeing the multitudes he went up to the mountain and when He was seated, His disciples came to Him."

The sculpture, Gore stated, "is a visual drama with a cast of Jesus, His disciples and several thousand broken-spirited, disconsolate and mournful people subjected to harsh conditions under Roman occupation." The setting is the Northern area of the Sea of Galilee.

At age 81, Gore continues to work hard to hone his craft, with his award-winning career spanning more than five decades.

Fellow artists like Kenneth Quinn, a retired MC faculty member, said Gore has "proven his worth as a sculptor and depth as a Christian."

Quinn joined the MC faculty in 1994 after retiring from the Jackson public schools. Gore has been a mentor and father figure to him for generations. He and Gore began building a friendship in 1958 when Quinn was an MC freshman and Gore worked as an art professor on the Clinton campus. "I pretty much owe my career and livelihood to him," Quinn said Thursday from his home in Jackson.

With the work beginning with three sheets of plywood in his Clinton home and later onto the Lugar Foundry for the finishing touches near Memphis, his sculpture of Jesus "is a powerful piece of work," Quinn said. Both of Gore's art treasures - Moses and Jesus - are a perfect fit at the Baptist-affiliated MC law school, he added.

Gore's wife, Margie, and other family members joined the artist at the dedication and mingled for brownies and punch. The event also attracted Mississippi College trustees, MC art professors, and students from Chamberlin-Hunt Academy in Port Gibson.

Sam Gore thanked the crowd for turning out on such a warm day. He singled out law school dean Jim Rosenblatt for helping turn his dreams into pieces of art on the East Griffith Street campus, a few blocks from the Capitol. "Dean Rosenblatt is an encourager."

During the program, Rosenblatt noted that Gore's two pieces of work can easily be seen by people on the sidewalk as they walk by the downtown Jackson campus. "We wanted to share this with the community," he said of the Moses and Jesus sculptures.

"In dramatic fashion, Dr. Gore's work completes the law series commissioned for the Law School," Rosenblatt said. "I know he was inspired as he used his creative genius, his artistic skills and his energy to craft these works that convey such a powerful message. It is said that one picture is worth a thousand words, then these two works of Dr. Gore's are worth a trillion words!"

Photo: CL photographer Barbara Gauntt documented the God-inspired work of Sam Gore's creation.

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