By Elsa Baughman
JACKSON – Dr. Samuel Gore says he can’t sing well enough to praise God with his voice but he can sing with his hands through sculpture. With complete concentration of mind and hands, using no instruments, in 20 minutes he transformed a block of clay into the face of Jesus with a crown of thorns.
While his hands worked a dark brown block of clay and soft, instrumental music played in the background inside St. Therese Church, you could hear the whisper echo of ‘oohs!’ and praises from the audience.
Dr. Gore is an internationally acclaimed artist whose career as a painter, sculptor, and Mississippi College professor and art department chairman spans six decades.
Catholic photographer Barbara Gauntt, an adjunct instructor of photography at Mississippi College, has followed the artistic life of Dr. Gore since her years at The Clarion Ledger when she was occasionally assigned to cover his work. “I saw there was something special about him and knew something more in-depth needed to be done to show his art work,” she said.
So during one of her assignments she asked him if she could follow him and photograph his next work from conception to completion. “Unbeknownst to me that piece of art, ‘Christ’s fulfillment of the law,’ would take almost two years to do,” she said. That sculpture hangs now at the Mississippi College School of Law.
The photos she has taken of his work through the years and the stories she has written about him will be included in a book that is being co-published by University Press and Mississippi College due to be released at the end of the summer.
James Jackson, one of Dr. Gore’s students who accompanied him to the spiritual sculpting session at St. Therese, said it is a blessing, a privilege and a great inspiration to work with him. “He is a good mentor and a down-to-earth person, easy to talk to,” he noted. Jackson said he listens to everything Dr. Gore tells him because he has a lot of experience and knowledge and he can learn about life lessons from him.
His presentation in the Mississippi College website reads: I am accountable as an artist to my Creator for stewardship of life, gift, career and concept of Art. Working in the light of His awesome and beautiful works, I strive toward the level of mastery which is acceptable to Him according to that measure of gift or talent with which I was born.
His most familiar works include: “Jesus and the Children” on the Mississippi College campus in Clinton, “Working Man,” a 600-pound bronze sculpture at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum in Jackson; “Fallen Comrades,” a seven-foot bronze sculpture at the Clinton Visitors Center; and “Moses and the 10 Commandments” and “Jesus and His Disciples” an eight by 10 feet, 2,000-pound bronze piece at the Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson.