How Much Do You Know About the Bronze Refugee Statue of the Angel Unawares?
There are poor and miserable people in every age, whether you’re in a boom time or a depression. This is how the world works. We can easily see those in the upper class enjoying life in luxury, but it is difficult to notice those who are suffering. Today I would like to enjoy with you Timothy Schmalz’s bronze sculpture Angel Unawares. Let’s turn our attention once again to those who lead a life of displacement.
Angel Unawares is a group of bronze sculptures by Timothy Schmalz. It depicts more than 140 refugees packed tightly into a 20-foot boat. Some look back on the past, but most are hopeful about the future and a new life. Parents hug tired and scared child with their pets and stuffed animals. Look closely and you’ll see the Holy Family standing amidst these immigrants across history. In the center of the frame, a pair of angel wings rise from the crowd.
Schmalz cast a total of 140 different figures on this sculpture, echoing the 140 statues of saints on the colonnade of St. Peter’s Square. He said that the final result he wanted to present was “a sculpture garden within a sculpture”. It demonstrates powerful information about the human migration experience.
This bronze angel unawares statue is often installed in major squares on Refugee Day and inaugurated by the Pope of the Church. In 2019, speaking at the inauguration after the unveiling, Pope Francis said he hoped the sculpture would “remind everyone of the challenges of hospitality in the Gospel”.
Miami Archbishop Thomas Winski also commented: “May all who watch it be filled with sympathy for the stranger among us and an eager hand of friendship.”
In fact, before this, the artist also made a sculpture “Homeless Jesus” with a theme similar to this sculpture. Angel wings are also included in this piece. Through this concrete thing, the author implies that an immigrant is an angel among us.
Indeed, immigrants, especially the most vulnerable, can help us read ‘signs of the times’. They are the epitome of an era. We can’t just see the bustling side, and the real phenomenon behind those needs to be paid attention to. Just like Timothy did. We need to be associated with sculpture design. Not just touching on the emotional level, but also making yourself feel integrated into the work and feel that you are a part of the work.
The world as a whole is peaceful now, but at the same time we cannot ignore the people who are suffering. We must see these bad phenomena, and we must actively extend a helping hand to strangers. This is the real meaning brought by the figurative artwork of the angel unawares statue.