Artwork by internationally recognized local artist being displaying at United Methodist Center

April 05, 2006

On the afternoon of April 5, 2006, a piece of art featuring a cross created by Lonnie Bradley Holley, Sr., an internationally recognized artist who once lived as a homeless person on the streets of Birmingham, was set up for display in the United Methodist Center in Birmingham.

The artwork is entitled "Getting Bent at the Cross." It is a tribute to the four little girls who died in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham on September 15, 1963.

Mr. Holley, a self-taught artist whose story has been told on 60 Minutes, 20/20 and CNN, explains it was Bishop William H. Willimon's choice to display this particular piece of art in the Untied Methodist Center. He also details the symbolism of this artwork.

He explains that the cross is made of four wooden boards standing tall and joined together in tribute to the four little girls who died. Across the front of the cross there are security bars from a window. He says this represents the elders who struggled for human rights. Draping down the front of the cross is a piece of tin that easily can be bent. Mr. Holley says this represents new generations that are losing the ideas of that human rights struggle as they instead choose to party too hard, drink too much and lose all they can earn. The Cross is held up by a piece of iron, bricks and rocks. These represent the elements ancestors used to build the city of Birmingham, The Magic City. The entire pieces rests on a wooden pallet. This pallet represents the future. Mr. Holley explains, "We all support, with hope, each other."

Mr. Holley describes his style of recycling ordinary industrial and natural elements into pieces of art by saying, "I learned to reclaim materials and add new value by reshaping, styling or fashioning them into works of art such as this."

Bishop Willimon says, "This work, like many of Holley's, combines twisted, violent elements that are ugly, even as on the Cross, Jesus took the twisted elements of our lives and wove them into the purposes of God."

Mr. Holley says, "I would like to thank the Bishop of this Administration for choosing my works [to display]." He adds that it is appropriate for a piece of his art to be displayed on the campus of Birmingham-Southern College, a place where he once worked with students to make creations from foundry sand used in the molting of iron. He says the students referred to him as "the Sand Man."

The artwork is located in the front lobby of the United Methodist Center. It is on loan from Mr. Holley.

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