This post has a couple of big buts. If you don’t like big buts then don’t read it. However if you do like big buts or are neutral this may be an article for you.
The most famous person who has gone to my high school, Elmira District Secondary School, is Malcolm Gladwell. However he was well out of the school by the time I attended. In my five years of high school I would say that Timothy Schmalz is the most famous of our lot. I was not in his grade. His brother was in my grade. I knew Tim through a mutual friend.
If you are wondering what his claim to fame is, he is a sculptor. A lot of thought goes into many of his pieces, including Homeless Jesus which depicts homeless Jesus huddled on a bench and Golden Leaves which commemorates Gordon Lightfoot in his hometown of Orillia.
But I choose to look at Homeless Jesus for the rest of this article. This is the sculpture that gets more people to think. It got me thinking about it. And there are replicas of it all over the world. Apparently Timothy didn’t break the mold.
It seems to be a sculpture for good. BUT I can’t help thinking about one big thing. Yes there is room on the bench to sit beside huddled Jesus. But the rest of this perfectly good bench is taken up by huddled Jesus. In other words, a homeless person can’t sleep on the perfectly usable bench of this sculpture.
This reminds me of the stadium seating in Waterloo Public Square. There are grooves at certain intervals along the seats so skateboarders can’t slide their boards along the edge. If they do they wipe out. Similarly a homeless person can’t lie on homeless Jesus for long without hurting their back or other parts.
On the surface I should view Homeless Jesus as bad because he is stealing a bed from the homeless. BUT I am just cognizant enough to realize that art can affect people. Perhaps someone who sees homeless Jesus will donate to the homeless. If enough people do then perhaps three beds will be filled by the homeless who might have used that bench.
And some Christians who see this sculpture might believe in charity enough they might try to organize their congregations to give more than this or other sculptures are worth. They might end up with permanent solutions to some people’s homelessness. Even if this never succeeds in getting rid of homelessness, it could get rid of specific people’s homelessness and thus be a boon to society.
My only problem with this is I wish I didn’t have to use the loosey goosey ‘art can affect people’ line. I wish there were established scientific methods that could tell exactly how many people could be affected. So I can’t say with certainty there will be a net boon to society. Still, I would give heavy odds that that is the case.