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Meet Sculptor Márton Váró

pinocchioHungarian sculptor Márton Váró  knew what he wanted to do in life from a young age.

"I knew I wanted to be a sculptor ever since at age five or six I saw the movie Pinnochio and watched Geppeto carve Pinocchio," he told a class at AMU's Lifelong Education program Saturday morning.

Now, some 60 years later, Mr. Váró is carving what is said to be the largest bas-relief depiction of The Annunciation anywhere, to grace the facade of the Ave Maria Oratory. He is delighted that art will have such a prominent place in the oratory.

"These days, many churches get built with no thought to art," he said, citing the cathedral for the Los Angeles archdiocese as one such example. "But art has to be part of the building and special to the community."

marton2The sculpture of The Annunciation, Mr. Váró said, is an effort to bring beauty to the AMU campus. He is working in marble, which he said "represents purity and is the noblest of all materials used in sculpture." The marble comes from the same quarry where Michelangelo found the stone he used for the Pieta and David. "The quality is very close to that used for David, -- and I'm comparing the quality of the marble," he joked, "nothing else." (At right, he shows one of the hammers during a demonstration of the tools used to create the sculpture.)

The sculpture is being carved in 19 different blocks and the logistical challenge of transporting those carved blocks and mounting them on the oratory is enormous, he said. The same engineer who orchestrated this feat for another major work of Mr. Váró's -- sculpure of angels that adorn the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Wort, TX -- is working on the task here in Ave Maria.

Mr. Váró showed a smaller model of the sculpture which will be used to cast bronze models that will be sold to donors to raise the money for the bas-relief. Donors also will get their names inscribed on the oratory facade under The Annunciation.

The specific depiction of The Annunciation portrayed in the sculpture was developed taking into account a number of factors, Mr. Váró said. Included were his desire that the image of Mary be well lit as the sun travelled across the front of the oratory and that the angel Gabriel's face not be in shadow.

"The most exciting thing," though, "is working in this place," he said. The work is out in the open, and "people encourage me and show a lot of interest."

"This is a very unusual studio, but I'm happy to be in this studio."

(Note: Mr. Váró will give another talk about his work at the Festival of the Arts March 22 at 1:30 p.m. A previous Ave Herald story on the carving of the first chip for the sculpture can be found here. Below, a simulated image of what the sculpture will look like on the oratory.)

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