cross is probably the most loaded symbol in the Western world. It is the
simple intersection of the horizontal and the vertical, the horizontal
(horizon) associated with earthly existence and the vertical being the
connection between earth and heaven.
Geometrically, two lines crossing turn the first dimension into the second
dimension. Gord Smith's sculptural treatment of this dimensional change
ranges from traditional to modern and yet never entirely sheds the religious
signification. Even when textured and crusty or luminously polished, they
can't be just shapes for they are crosses. Although each one is entirely
new, in this nascent creation there resides age-old meaning.
The structure that the fifteen crosses are housed in is an altar: it cannot
be read otherwise, but it is a very different altar from the traditional.
The triangular mirror at the top reveals that the sequence, with one cross
at the front apex of the triangular platform and five in the back row, also
forms a perfect triangle. The mirror allows the viewer to look directly down
upon the crosses - this is a godlike perspective. It shrinks the
significance of the classic proportion of the Roman cross where the
horizontal cross bar is placed closer to the top than to the bottom, thus
creating the illusion of greater height for in Gord Smith's Amen, from the
bird's eye mirrored reflection, there is the opposite illusion - that this
symbol can be dwarfed if granted an omnipotent perspective.
Historically, especially within the Christian tradition, the cross embodies
spiritual and philosophical ideologies. It is the icon of icons. Under this
symbol, wars have been fought, lives have been lost and buried, couples have
been wed, new-borns blessed and crimes confessed. There are war crosses and
peace crosses in Gord Smith's Amen. These are not 'good' and 'bad'
signifiers but a far more profound naming that reflects the dynamic
interplay of opposites within each man.
Amen is a piece that exemplifies the grand creation of an artist who needed
to make a masterpiece and was gutsy enough to tackle the Cross - not just
once but fifteen times! Then he cast the crosses in bronze so that they are
able to endure the passage of time and placed them within a framework that
enables common man to access multiple divine concepts.
Copyright © 2006, Julie Oakes