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Model of a saint created by Teresa Clark

Artist/sculptor Teresa Clark checks the partial fiberglass shell that is part of a model she is making of her original model of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin

After admiring the magnificent Saint Mother Theodore Guerin model created by artist/sculptor Teresa Clark, it was unsettling to see it days ago covered with rubbery goo.

But there the model was, upright and bolted into place in Teresa’s temporary studio housed in the Water Treatment Plant at the Sisters of Providence. The work of art was incredibly indistinguishable with its layer upon layer of rubbery coatings, the recipient of a necessary step in the process of preparing a model that will eventually be sent to a carver in Ohio.

As Teresa talked about the process, she circled the approximately 6 ½-foot model of Saint Mother Theodore, pausing once or twice while waiting for the latest “coat” of the rubbery compound to dry.

The sculptor talked about plans to add yet another coat, then another and yet another before making her “cast” of the statue by finishing it up with an outer shell of fiberglass.

Teresa began applying the rubbery component on the afternoon of Nov. 7. The process requires a new coating to be applied every two hours. That meant an around-the-clock effort that ended well into the following day.

Was it exhausting? Yes, Teresa says, but it also was worth it.

“When you know it is what you have to do, you don’t let yourself be tired,” she explains.

And, Teresa stresses, if this process isn’t followed to the exact detail the rubber compound won’t adhere.

The extensive rubber coating itself greatly distorts the look of the model. But once the process is complete, each and every feature of Saint Mother Theodore that Teresa captured in clay with the model will be maintained right down to the tiniest detail.

Teresa’s latest work with the statue will provide a finished model for use by Nick Fairplay, a carver based in Oberlin, Ohio. He will take the final fiberglass model Teresa creates and carve a replica out of limestone. The statue will then be sent to Washington, D.C., where it will find a new home in Mary’s Garden at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Teresa said there is no definite date set when she will complete her work of preparing the model, although she is aiming for early December.

As the artist sat on a makeshift bench, gazing upward at the model of Saint Mother Theodore while pondering her next move, you could tell Teresa enjoys a good challenge.

“Each project is unique,” Teresa said, adding that the model of Saint Mother Theodore has been the “most complex shape” she’s completed to date. “But although each shape is different, the basic principles are the same.”

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Sisters of Providence

The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, are a congregation of Roman Catholic women religious (sisters) who minister throughout the United States and Taiwan. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence in 1840. The congregation has a mission of being God's Providence in the world by committing to performing works of love, mercy and justice in service among God's people.

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