Lipski to create new work at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Boston

September 8, 2012

St. Paul’s is a house of Prayer for all People.  Carl Jung saw the spiral as the archetypal symbol of cosmic force, focusing both inward and outward.  The spiral occurred to me because it speaks to all people.  We see it in most every culture, from primitive rock carvings to the scroll of the Torah.  It’s a ubiquitous form in nature—from the motion of subatomic particles to the vastness of galaxies.

The church itself gets its Greek proportions from the golden rectangle, which generates the Fibinacci spiral.  This is how the idea first came to me.  I visited the church in November, and in the Commons came upon a woman making a spiral in the leaves, and walking it back and forth like a labyrinth.  This was like a divine sign.

I’ve based it on a slice from the shell of the Chambered Nautilus, one of the Earth’s oldest creatures.  The Nautilus each year outgrows its chamber and builds a new one, which is a beautiful metaphor for spiritual growth.  Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote his great poem, The Chambered Nautilus, reflecting on just this.  He called the nautilus “The Ship of Pearl”, and I have made this the title of the sculpture.  Here is the last stanza:

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,

As the swift seasons roll!

Leave thy low-vaulted past!

Let each new temple, nobler than the last,

Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,

Till thou at length art free,

Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!

I plan to make it look like the stone tracery on Gothic churches.  St. Paul’s was once a prominent building, but as tall office buildings have grown up around it, it has lost its impact.  Folks have felt that it looks like a bank.  I think this will change that.  I expect it will be a new and welcome landmark on Tremont St.

-Donald Lipski

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