Mississippi College

Moses The Lawgiver Arrives at the MC School of Law

October 12, 2007

Construction cranes, a flatbed truck, and work crews helped the "Moses the Lawgiver" sculpture complete its much-anticipated journey today to the Mississippi College School of Law.

"It puts a stamp on what this school stands for," said Tametrice Hodges, 22, of Jackson, a first-year MC law student as she gazed up at the 2,700-pound bronze sculpture on the downtown Jackson campus. "This is a Christian university. This is pretty impressive."

Many on-lookers agreed as the hard-to-miss 12-foot tall Moses sculpture was hoisted with a crane and attached to an outside wall of a classroom building. Members of the Mississippi news media captured the piece of MC history in the making. It will remain on display at the 538-student law school for generations to come.

Moses and the Ten Commandments in Hebrew letters is the newest creation of internationally recognized MC art professor Sam Gore. By early this afternoon, it rested 17 feet and six inches above the law school courtyard's fountains, and was visible to the public walking along Griffith Street.

Visibly moved by the day's events were both Gore and MC School of Law Dean Jim Rosenblatt, who joined the crowd of on-lookers Friday as the bronze sculpture's relocation progressed.

"At this state of my life and career - this is my 57th year - this is a powerful enough statement," Gore said. It's a work that the 80-year-old MC alumnus finished over the summer at the Lugar Foundry in Memphis. But he's been laboring over it since producing the first sketches more than a year ago. "My fingers have been all over it. I didn't use mechanical tools...I threw myself bodily into it."

Still, Gore, who was born in a small Texas town in 1927, always shares the credit for his accomplishments. Like famed aviator Charles A. Lindbergh, who piloted his Spirit of St. Louis airplane from New York to Paris, the first such Atlantic crossing in May 1927, Gore reiterates the pilot's words upon landing in France by saying "We did this!" Added Gore: "I couldn't have done this without help."

From MC Christian Studies Department Chairman Wayne VanHorn, who conducted the meticulous research on the Hebrew lettering to the crews of workers at the Memphis foundry, there are many playing a vital role, Gore said. "My part was the easy part, the fun part."

Gore is a 1951 graduate of Mississippi College and an alumnus of the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. As an eight-year boy from Bruce, Mississippi, Gore revealed he likes to read the Bible, and always goes to Sunday School, but also enjoys drawing and making toys. His career dreams were nicely summed up in a Feb. 13, 1936 letter printed in The Baptist Record, the weekly newspaper for Mississippi Baptists.

The MC School of Law commissioned the soft-spoken MC alum to do the Moses sculpture. It's a magnificent work of art that Rosenblatt hopes will be a law school destination point for the entire Jackson community, all of Mississippi and beyond its borders for decades. "It's open to interpretation. People can look at it in light of their religious training," Rosenblatt said. "We want to share it."

Lights will be added at night so Moses the Lawgiver becomes more visible to the public at all hours of the day, Rosenblatt noted.

It's an extraordinary piece of work that's a natural fit for the School of Law, students say as they watched it being mounted at its new home after being stored in recent weeks at Gore's large workshop in Clinton.

"Most of the laws we have today are based on the Ten Commandments," said third-year MC law student Gordon Shaw, 32, of Columbus as he viewed the sculpture during a break from morning classes. "Visually it is impressive. This is a good addition to the law school."

Said third-year student Brandon White of Baton Rouge: "I like it. It is the symbol of the first rules of the land."

The work is the biggest of Gore's extraordinary career. While the talented artist anticipated the events at the MC School of Law for months, it was a little overwhelming for the man who created the Moses masterpiece. Said Gore as he clutched the Moses sketches and photos in his thick folder: "This came out a little more powerful than I thought."

Workers from Mid State Construction, who began the process at 6 a.m. Friday when they arrived at Gore's home on Northside Drive to put Moses on a flatbed, were thankful to see Moses secure on the law school building wall hours later. Said project superintendent Obie Rinewalt; "It ain't a real easy job trying to put something like it on a building - it weighs 2,700 pounds."

People who missed Friday's big move to the School of Law today are invited to the MC School of Law to a formal unveiling at 3:45 p.m. on Oct. 24. Gore, Rosenblatt, and VanHorn will deliver remarks. Gore will also put on an art demonstration with a piece of clay. It's not just a ceremony intended for the legal community and a list of invited Mississippi leaders. The public is also welcome to view Gore's latest creation.

A beloved Mississippi artist, whose name is spotlighted at the Samuel M. Gore Galleries on the Clinton campus, the Clintonian refuses to slow down this fall. Gore plans to keep working the next few months to make miniature replicas of "Moses the Lawgiver," to spread the message of his long and mighty labors.

PHOTOS: MC artist Sam Gore and his 12-foot tall, 2,700 pound sculpture, "Moses the Lawgiver," being hoisted onto the side of the MC School of Law Building in Jackson.

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