August 30, 2023 // Diocese

Local Sculptor Creates Sacred Art

Andrew Wilson Smith grew up in the South Bend area and was immersed in sacred architecture from a young age. With a father who is an architect, his creative abilities were noticed and nurtured early on. As a child, he attended classes at the South Bend Museum of Art and found a love for sculpting. As a teenager, he had apprenticeships with sculptors that affirmed his love of the art form.

A statue of St. Paul stands outside the workshop of sculptor Andrew Wilson Smith, with a statue of St. Peter in the background, before the pieces were installed at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Jefferson City, Missouri. Smith said he and two other artists worked on the project full-time for about a year.

After graduating high school, Smith attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts for about two years and continued to apprentice with a sculptor there. From there, he went to Florence, Italy, and attended the Florence Academy of Fine Arts. After this, he returned to South Bend, where he opened his own sculpting studio and has been working professionally as a sculptor ever since. Most recently, he opened a new studio in South Bend about a year ago.

When talking about his love of sculpting, Smith joked, “Well, I was no good at painting.” He continued: “I have always loved the physicality of sculpting and just the monumentality of it.” Smith has done many different projects throughout the years, including one recently for the University of Notre Dame’s Michael Christopher Duda Center for Preservation, Resilience, and Sustainability. When thinking back through his career, he recalls with pride a project he did for a Benedictine monastery in Oklahoma, Clear Creek Monastery. He said it was his first carving project, and he was able to carve the Twelve Apostles. When Smith spoke of this project, he mentioned how grateful he was for this opportunity.

Andrew Wilson Smith poses with the statue he sculpted at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Jefferson City, Missouri. Smith grew up in South Bend before studying in Pennsylvania and Italy, and he has since returned to his hometown.

Smith recently finished statues of St. Peter and St. Paul that were just installed at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Jefferson City, Missouri. The process to make these sculptures began about three years ago, he said, which included initial discussions, designing the sculptures, and then about a year of full-time work for himself and two others who helped him with the project.

Smith talked about the support and encouragement of his family, particularly his wife Marie and his three young children – Jonah, Seraphina, and Samson. He said his children will come and hang out in his studio and play with some clay while he works.

Statues of St. Peter, left, and St. Paul flank the doors to enter St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Jefferson City, Missouri. The statues were sculpted by South Bend artist Andrew Wilson Smith.

Although Smith does not exclusively work on Catholic projects, it is a large part of his work. “We are in kind of a revival now of traditional imagery and fine art in the Church, which I think has been positive overall,” he said. “I think it’s an interesting time to be doing this sort of work and engaged in these sorts of projects. There’s been a major shift in terms of architecture from more modernist influences to a greater appreciation for traditional architectural styles. So, a lot of work fits well within that movement, and, at the same time, trying to breathe new life into older idioms and make things more vital and present.”

Smith added, “I look at my role as being part of a very long and coherent tradition and trying to participate in that.”

Photos provided by Andrew Wilson Smith
Andrew Wilson Smith poses with his wife and children in front of a statue of St. Peter at his studio in South Bend.

Smith also mentioned his deep appreciation for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and how thankful he’s been since returning as an adult. Smith and his family attend St. Joseph Church in Mishawaka and have loved their experience as parishioners there. Smith said he feels grateful for the opportunity to be here in the diocese with his family and living out his call to create art through sculpture.

“I find the diocese has more vivacity and vitality than I remember as a kid,” he said, “and it’s great to see the vitality that it is here.”

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