Client: Dr. Cheuyengther Xiong
Location: Oroville, United States
Completion date: 2017
Artwork budget: $130,500
Paula B. Slater, M.A.
Paula Slater Sculpture
Master Art Pedestals
The Artworks Foundry
This lovely sculptural project was for a Hmong church being built in Oroville, California. The ornate bronze temple chair is 8-1/2 foot high and the bronze portrait of the religion's spiritual leader, in her elaborately embellished ceremonial costume and headdress, is 6 foot high while seated.
This bronze sculpture will be the centerpiece of a beautiful new church located on a grassy knoll with huge walls of windows open to sweeping vistas of Lake Oroville. The golden portrait will be dramatically lit and viewed in the round from all sides in the center of the church. The goal was to bring the outdoors into the church and relay the message of this religion that Mother Earth gives life to all living things. The Mother sculpture places her hands over her heart to remind us to love, care, respect and conserve nature and all living beings.
As the artist, I sculpted the 1.5 times life size highly detailed portrait of the Hmong spiritual leader, whom they call "Mother". I also coordinated and oversaw the creation of the monumental temple chair by master woodworker Chris Slater and then I sculpted upon it the symbolic relief decoration. All the components of the clay portrait and the chair were then molded by Chris Slater and cast in bronze by the Artworks Foundry in Berkeley, California. As always, I work my own waxes and follow the sculpture through the bronze process--doing weld and metal checks (as is seen in one of the attached photos). My clients wanted a light golden patina. It was a sunny day when we shot the patina outdoors and the bronze sculpture glistened brightly, reminding us of the beautiful gold-leaf Buddhas in Thailand. My clients were thrilled with the golden glow of the finely finished bronze portrait in her temple chair (My client, Dr. Xiong, is seen in the attached photo next to the large finished bronze at the Artworks Foundry).
This religion named Kev Ntseeg is the belief by the Hmong people that the Mother spirit gives life and is their God. It is about loving the Earth and loving all living beings, it is a peaceful spirituality. Much like what the Dalai Lama professed when he said, "My religion is kindness."