A forklift carrying an almost 400 pound bronze man arrived on Newman University’s campus Feb. 26 and was lowered in front of the Bishop Gerber Science Center in a medieval executional style that startled some students.
Freshman Logan Shultz was finding a place to park when she first saw the sculpture.
“It scared me at first wondering what old man would just be standing there [on the back of the trailer] before I figured out it was a statue,” Shultz said. “Once I got inside, I had class so I didn’t see it again until after. Once I got out of class it looked like they were hanging the bishop as they were lowering and placing him in his forever home.”
The sculpture was a 16-month project created by Lori Norwood as a dedication to Bishop Eugene Gerber.
Norwood said that her original interest was in the challenge of finding a way to portray who someone is. After meeting with the project committee for the sculpture, she said she felt she had gotten to know Gerber as a person.
“When I first met with the small committee formed to see this project through, I perceived, first of all, that these were people I would want to work with,” she said. “Secondly, I recognized, through our conversations that Bishop Gerber was a much loved and wonderful human being that I would feel good about devoting so many hours of my life to portraying.”
Norwood said that in particular, President Noreen Carrocci’s “enthusiasm for the project was contagious.”
According to an article by Newman Today, Carrocci is excited to finally have the sculpture in its permanent place in front of the Bishop Gerber Science Center.
“It’s like a dream come true — we’ve waited so long. Lori has been so attentive to detail, so loving and caring. And she’s been amazing,” she said.
Norwood put a large quantity of time into researching Gerber. Norwood met with Gerber himself, but also collected stories and photos from friends and family.
She said the “overwhelming impression” she got from those who knew the Bishop “was of welcome; that the last person would be welcomed as sincerely as the first.”
“I was really trying to avoid portraying him smiling. It is difficult to pull off in sculpture. But of course after meeting Bishop Gerber, I realized that I needed to make that smile happen,” Norwood said.
Though Norwood said she doesn’t believe that she portrayed all that Gerber is, she does feel as if she found something true about him and hopes the statue brings Gerber’s sense of open-hearted acceptance and optimism to Newman.
“I could not wish for a nicer setting for this portrait of Bishop Eugene Gerber,” Norwood said. “The science center is gorgeous and impactful. It is my hope that his presence there adds a touch, a memory of what the Bishop has been to so many: welcoming, kind, open, sincere in his devotion and intention for good.”
This story first appeared in the March 8, 2018 issue of The Vantage.