Arts & Entertainment and Higher Education

College installs $500K sculpture

December 8, 2015
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Let There Be Light sculpture Cornerstone University Christ Chapel
An up-close glimpse of "Let There Be Light," a stainless steel sculpture by Albert Paley, in Christ Chapel at Cornerstone University. Courtesy Cornerstone University

A college has unveiled a roughly $500,000 stainless steel sculpture in its new chapel.

Cornerstone University hosted a dedication ceremony last week for “Let There Be Light,” by metal sculptor Albert Paley, in the nearly $15-million Christ Chapel.

37-piece creation

The 12-feet high, 25-feet wide and 10-feet deep sculpture comprises 37 crafted pieces of stainless steel mounted on 83 studs anchored into the north wall of the chapel’s lobby.

The piece is set against a gold-painted wall, and each piece is powder-coated stainless steel to provide stain resistance and weighs between 100 to 400 pounds.

The cost for the piece and its installation was funded by contributions from private donors, according to Bob Sack, executive director of marketing and communications, Cornerstone University.

Paley began working on the project a year ago, and pieces were shipped from his studio in Rochester, N.Y. to Grand Rapids.

Installation took a little under a week to complete near the end last month.

“Let There Be Light”

The sculpture was inspired by the Bible verse John 8:12: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

The piece depicts the Star of Bethlehem, a lily to represent resurrection and life and vines leading to a cross.

Cornerstone's Sack said it's fitting for those who enter the lobby of Christ Chapel to be welcomed by a sculpture honoring the life of Jesus Christ.

“Christ Chapel was designed and built as a place for worship, which is an important component of a faith-based higher education institution like Cornerstone University,” Sack said.

Joe Stowell, president at Cornerstone, indicated Paley captured the "life-enriching blessings" of Christ with "enchanting artistry."

Metal sculptor

Paley has been an artist for more than 40 years and is a professor with an endowed chair at the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

He is the first metal sculptor to receive an Institute Honors award by the American Institute of Architects for the integration of art and architecture in his work.

“Let There Be Light” is one of 50 site-specific works Paley has completed.

He also has a number of permanent collections in major museums: the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and Victoria and Albert Museum in London.  

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