LeAnne Martin
Christians in the Arts

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"How I Work": Stephanie Tumney, Part Two

Stephanie Tumney is a stone sculptor. At an early age, her creativity and love for art were evident. In kindergarten, her favorite sculptor was Michelangelo, and she is still influenced by his work today, along with others such as Bernini, Picasso and Henri Moore. Stephanie graduated from the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, DC. She also studied marble sculpture in Tinos, Greece. She has shown in museums, galleries, churches and private homes in California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington DC, and Cairo, Egypt. She works primarily as a sculptor in both stone and bronze, although she enjoys drawing, painting and photography as well. Many of her paintings have been displayed in churches, used for spiritual direction and reflection. Her sculptural work is often figurative, in poses that depict raw emotion, as well as spiritual and psychological transformation. Stephanie grew up on the East Coast, in Massachusetts, and currently resides in Campbell, California, with her husband Mark who is a pastor. Stephanie is available for commissions in either sculpture or painting.

LeAnne: What are you working on currently?

Last week I finished a large outdoor sculpture project for Saratoga Presbyterian Church in Saratoga, California. My husband has been pastor there for over two years. Our church is re-opening its doors and wanted a guerilla marketing campaign to grab people’s attention and make them wonder what is going on, rather than a typical campaign of just banners and postcards. My proposal of “Opening New Doors” was chosen, which consisted of erecting 24 doors along the two main streets that border the church. Each door has the contour of a person carved out of the middle. I tried to include people of all shapes, sizes and walks of life to show that the church’s doors were open to all types of people. The doors are painted vibrant “Island” colors that catch your eye as you drive by.

Part of the project was to construct the sculptures on site, and over a specific span of time leading up to the launch of Saratoga Pres.’s new post-contemporary service. That way, those who drive by consistently can observe the progress and see what has changed, and it will retain their attention for over a month. My working on site served its purpose and sparked the interest of many. There were many who were curious and asked questions, who honked or yelled out to me as they drove by. It was quite a spectacle.

God really blessed the project from its conception onward. I credit Him with planting such a simple and yet perfect marketing strategy for the situation. Then He brought us a door replacement company that was willing to have me raid their dumpster consistently for appropriate doors. God has used these doors to give the members of the congregation an opportunity to talk to and invite their friends and neighbors to church, something that they were less comfortable doing before. They actually have people asking them about their church now, which is close to preposterous in this area where less than 10% of the population goes to church, and some seem hostile to Christianity. I am grateful that God used my sweat and talent to be a witness for Him, and keep praying that this may open doors for people to come to know Christ, the True Door.

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