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Lasting impressions.

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A magnificent 12-foot sculpture of Moses holding the Ten Commandments hangs on the side of the Mississippi College School of Law in downtown Jackson. It is a striking, unequivocal statement, insisting on God's law as a framework for law and justice in our society.

And that's exactly what artist and Mississippi College professor Samuel Gore had in mind for what he describes as the most profound work of his career: "Moses the Lawgiver."

"The Ten Commandments are the plumb line of what is right and wrong," Gore explains. "I consider my art wasted if I'm not making a strong statement about what's right and wrong in the sight of our Creator."

Jim Rosenblatt, dean of the Mississippi College School of Law, explains that Gore's sculpture expresses an important concept in the study of law: the relationship of a set of morals to a society's behavior and justice system.

"Moses as the lawgiver is a theme that fits well with our institution," he says. "This work will allow us to reflect on the role that rules play in governing people's conduct today as well as in Moses' time."

Gore, who likens the process of sculpting to the orchestration of music, crafted "Moses the Lawgiver" at the Lugar Foundry in Memphis during the summer of 2007. The 2,700 pound bronze sculpture was transported from Gore's Clinton home and mounted on an exterior wall of the Mississippi College School of Law in October 2007.

More than 100 people attended the unveiling ceremony, where guests heard speeches on the sculpture and Dr. Gore's works. The artist also gave a live sculpture performance during which he sculpted the head of Jesus in just 20 minutes.

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Mississippi College president Lee Royce noted in his remarks that with the addition of "Moses the Lawgiver," the law school joins an illustrious rank of buildings housing a depiction of Moses and the Ten Commandments. Moses and two tablets of the law appear at the apex of the roof of the U.S. Supreme Court building. Moses also appears in the grand rotunda of the Library of Congress, and the Ten Commandments appear outside the Ronald Reagan Building and are carved on the floor of the National Archives.

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"And having seen these sites," Royce added, "I can say that this exceptional work of Samuel Marshall Gore stands equal to any."

Rosenblatt affirms that the sculpture is impacting both students and the surrounding downtown community. "I have encountered visitors on the sidewalk by our Law School who have come to view the sculpture," he explains. "They marvel at the scale of the sculpture and the detail it contains. Universally they find it a very moving work of art."

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Gore says he intends for his art to lift up and encourage people, even in the details. He notes that Moses' tablets, which are inscribed in Hebrew, represent two fundamental aspects of human relationships.

"The first tablet outlines our relationship to God and affirms his absolute authority and the respect we owe him," Gore says, "and the second tablet explains our relationship to other men and how we respect each other."

Rosenblatt hopes the work will inspire all audiences--from small children to law students to passersby. The sculpture is visible at all times and is illuminated at night.

"This is a wonderful interpretive piece and can speak to the viewer on so many different levels," he enthuses. "The sheer power of the piece is bound to make an impression on all."

Gore himself has impacted countless students and audiences throughout his career and during his 56 years as a professor of art at Mississippi College, his alma mater. His works are on display worldwide.

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Gore's commissioned works around the Jackson area include "Working Man" at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum, "Christ the Healer" at the Baptist Medical Center, and "Servant Savior" on Mississippi College's Clinton campus. But none of his previous works has been of the same magnitude as "Moses the Lawgiver."

His work for the Mississippi College School of Law is not yet finished. Already, Gore is working on sketches for "Jesus the Fulfillment of the Law," a sculpture to accompany and complement "Moses the Lawgiver."

At 80 years old, Gore says he trusts God for each day. "Dr. Royce reminds me that Moses began his best work at the age of eighty, so who knows what God has in store for me," he smiles.

Whatever tomorrow brings, Gore's strong beliefs are captured in his monumental work. "Bronze is one of the longest lasting materials," he explains, "and so by leaving something in bronze, I'm reminding future generations of this standard of righteousness."

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Article Details
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Author:McNair, Ann Shivers
Publication:Mississippi Magazine
Date:Jan 1, 2008
Words:785
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