About The Artist
Sculptor & Artist
Mr. Paul Cunningham was born in Nebraska. His schooling was only through the eighth grade. At the age of twelve, he began, at the request of his school teacher who was also a Sunday School teacher, to create some “brown-paper-bag” chalk-talks for church meetings. Due to a very difficult home situation, he left home at the age of fourteen and became self-supportive. While growing up, Paul continued to draw for one-room schoolhouse church gatherings in Wyoming. Later, he had the good fortune to become acquainted with Mr. G. Borglum who was a sculptor for Mount Rushmore. Mr. Cunningham learned from this man’s keen sense of observation and proceeded to teach himself combined sculpturing and painting. By compressing the subject, he could condense a mile of space into five feet of depth, the horizon thus becoming a “vanishing point”. It took him approximately one year to create one biblical scene. He portrayed thirty dimensional scenes in all, thirteen of which we have on display. For more than thirty years Mr. Cunningham lovingly labored on sculpting minutely detailed scenes from the earthly life of our Lord. Mr. Cunningham was not involved in any other type of painting or sculpting; he devoted his total talent to portraying scenes about Christ, the Savior of all mankind. A quote from Mr. Cunningham: “I have no other desire than to portray the life of Christ.” Mr. Cunningham passed away in 1985.
About The Displays
The figures were first sculpted from clay. Then a plaster-of-paris molding material was poured over the figure and left to dry. After drying, the mold was sectioned and placed back together. A malleable plastic was then melted at 200 degrees and poured into the mold.
Later, the figure details were carved by hand. Broom corn and aluminum wire were used for the field scenes. Thousands of leaves were carved out of shim brass 2/1000ths of an inch thick and created by an etching process. Grass was made from rope fibers. Trees and bushes were made of sprayed steel wire. Rocks were made from plastic. Hundreds of colorful flowers were individually designed on rice paper. Clothing was made by molding strips of linen together to get the wrinkled effect of the daily wardrobes. Human fingernails were used on many of the figures to give the display a “living” quality.
Startling details—even to a tiny bumble bee on an Easter Lily—give depth of life to these inspiring scenes. Carefully sculptured details and historical accuracy make the Bible come alive in vivid color.