Thanks to reader Ciro Lamonte in Italy for bringing to our notice the sculpture of Cody Swanson. I know little of him, but it seems from his commissions he is well known to others and I am guessing many NLM readers will already know more of his work than I do! Reading through his website, here, he is based in Florence and teaches at the Florence Academy.
I like this very much. Clearly Cody has great skill as a sculptor. Beyond this I offer just a couple of personal thoughts on what I like so much about it: first, I see first an idealised face of Our Lady that seems to me to draw on the classical ideal. I would rather see this than something that is so individualized that it looks like a portrait of the girl nextdoor dressed up in old-fashioned costume. I always feel that even in the naturalistic styles sacred art must have some idealization so that it emphasizes the common humanity – those aspects of Our Lady to which we can hope to emulate. Second, I see strong angular folds in the drapery as one might have seen in 17th century sculpture and which gives the form vigour and acts against sentimentality.
I took the following photos from Cody’s Facebook page. We see drawings, the development of the model in clay in which, as I understand the process the creative work of the artist takes place. And then finally the translation of the clay model into the final medium, which is more of a mechanical process.