Copyright © Edward Riojas
I was recently asked to create what is certainly the smallest sculpture I’ve done to date. Every commission I’ve tackled has had its own constraints, but this particular piece had to fit in the space 2.5” by 2.5” by 4.75”. It was to be a crucifix.
I have seen larger pectoral crucifixes, so this carved piece is on a jewel-like scale. Without engaging in a convoluted and costly cast metal alternative, I decided to use hard maple. Being somewhat delicate, I made use of a stout back and base as protection.
Protection. We often take the word for granted, and along with it those who, through their vocation, protect us. This tiny crucifix was destined for a portable Communion kit used by a military chaplain.
A last-minute decision was made to add a detail to the piece – one which would serve as a double entendre of immense importance. Using an ancient device, characters of the Greek word “NIKA” were placed around the cross. “Victory.”
In a military setting, the word has significance – an objective met; an obliterated foe; no man left behind. In this case, however, the word goes way beyond the obvious, even though it is accompanied by an image of a dying God. Whether on a smoke-filled battlefield or in a bed at a veteran’s home or in seemingly mundane civilian life, the skirmishes of this life pale in comparison to the greater battle for our souls. His death, though seen as an insignificant, foolish loss by the world, was precisely how Christ Jesus ambushed Satan and won our epic victory.