Story Behind Two Statues Chinese Top Sculptor Makes to Honor Late Billy Graham
By Ruth Wang, October 18, 2018 15:10 PM
The unveiling ceremony of two statues donated by a Chinese top sculptor to immortalize the world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham was held in the headquarters of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) on September 28, 2018.
The bronze sculptures are named Billy Graham as Messenger of Hope and Billy Graham as Sower, created by Yuan Xikun, who plans to regard them as his final products. Hailed as "Portrait Diploma", Yuan wanted to honor Graham's great life as a preacher, his global influence, and relationship with China, especially his evangelism's contributions to the country.
As early as 2008, the artist already began a friendship with BGEA, according to the Beijing-based Jintai Museum where Kun served as its curator.
Ten years ago, Kun first met Rev. Billy Graham through the relief work done for the devastated Sichuan earthquake. Then he made statues themed in relief efforts and named Wenchuan Mother, the Great Wall Spine, and Woman and Dogs. Almost the same time, the North Carolina-based ministry and Samaritan's Purse sent a transport plane to carry relief supplies to the affected areas.
Knowing the ministry via art, Yuan believed that art and faith originated from the same source and the former should serve great religion, society, and nature.
"There is an intimate relationship between art and religion. Both of them have many things in common." He said in the ceremony.
It took him around one year to complete the two products. The museum said that Kun was invited to create sculptures in memory of Rev. Graham in 2017. Afterward, he visited the headquarters of BEGA, the Billy Graham Library and the Billy Graham Training Center. The Graham's four-generation devotion to evangelism moved him to collect thousands of pieces of material and produce a relief and two statues.
During China's two sessions in 2018, a public service announcement about the two statues were displayed in Beijing and Shanghai metro stations. By the end of October, the sculpture Billy Graham as Messenger of Hope will be stationed in Beijing Chaoyang Park.
Born in Kunming in 1944, he has drawn ink- wash portraits for many foreign politicians including India's father Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Juan Pablo Duarte, the Father of Dominican Republic, and His work Tears of Polar Bear is placed in the headquarter of UN Environment situated in Nairobi, Kenya.
Talking about his growth, he mentioned the deep impression left by the traces of foreign missionaries in ethnic minority areas left to him in Yunnan.
"I observed bees meticulously. It was in a Miao stockaded village. What astonished me was that the villagers believed in Christianity and the children could sing hymns. And there was a real English style chapel with a spire! Those missionaries who had no fear of hardships brought the 'gospel' of God to such remote place!" He said.
About his creative ideas, the artist prefers figures rather than flowers and animals. He explained, "First of all, I think people should have convictions of truthfulness, compassion, and beauty. This kind of keen passion should experience changing fortunes and stand tests. The Bible extols strong-minded persons who can be masters of their souls rather than the powerful that take cities."
- Translated by Karen Luo
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