Artists’ auction about more than works

By Staff
Kay Campbell
For the FCT
Scott Wiley felt like he was leaving babies on a doorstep.
After 30 years of creating ceramic vessels, blown glass vases and interpretations of, of all things, sewer covers, Wiley needed to find his works a home.
"Pastor Rusty spoke like an artist, so I was able to give them up," Wiley said last week as he explained why he began taking pieces to him.
But he wanted Pastor Rusty Nelson, senior pastor at The Rock Family Worship Center in Huntsville, to know the stories behind each piece.
"That's when I started writing about them," Wiley said. "I felt like they needed a note or something."
Wiley's notes are preserved on the Web site noted on the base of each item. Even if the piece changes hands, the new owner can always learn its story and meaning.
So Wiley began leaving art with Nelson, directing him to give it away as he saw fit.
But last summer, Wiley happened to be in Nelson's office and noticed his art works still sitting on Nelson's shelf.
"Hey, you were supposed to be giving that away," Wiley said.
"I've got a better idea," Nelson told him.
Nelson, who is in India on a mission trip and couldn't be reached for comment, recommended Wiley contact Choose Life to arrange for an auction to raise money and awareness for the crisis pregnancy center.
"That's where your heart is," he told Wiley.
Wiley's works will be auctioned Saturday to benefit Choose Life of North Alabama.
Wiley is a 1970 Russellville High School graduate. His sister, Patti Kimbrough, said that art has always been a special part of Wiley’s life, as with all of his family.
The auction was the only way Wiley would consider having money enter into the equation, he said. He left the commercialized world of marketing his art a long, long time ago.
"I didn't want this to be about me," Wiley said. "All this is about God."
Wiley, 58, who works in design at Boeing, has felt compelled to protest abortions with his art since he was in college. The court decision defining abortion as a legal choice, Roe v. Wade, was given the same year he broke into sculpture and felt newborn as an artist.
"That's all I do with my art work," Wiley said. "It's about abortion – but it's not just about abortion. This is about discarding God's image."
That's where he got the idea to memorialize sewer covers in a series he calls "Lichgates." A lich gate in old English cemeteries is a roofed entrance where family members can wait for the body to be brought or wait for the parson to arrive.
For Wiley, the glazed ceramic reproductions of the round metal covers become symbols of how a choice to have an abortion is a choice to throw away the image of God. To create ceramic reproductions becomes a way to change a place of disposal into a place of remembering, a place of waiting for grace.
"I've accepted this as a challenge to sanctify that place," Wiley said.
Many of his vessels are glazed with a crinkled effect or have cut-outs missing.
Wiley pictures these speaking to someone personally affected by abortion.
"The pieces are dealing with healing," Wiley said. "They have scars I count as beauty marks because the fire and glaze have healed on that and made something beautiful."
Wiley's gift comes at a good time, said Barbara Glenn, development director of Choose Life, which offers free pregnancy testing, ultrasounds and adoption and nurturing support for mothers-to-be who need help.
"We know that about 40 percent of abortions happen because of economics," Glenn said. "Because of the economy, I'm going to be surprised if we don't see a seven or eight percent increase in abortions."
Last year, 4,100 women sought the services of Choose Life, said Donna Landers, executive director. The center's new location, 220 Rands Ave., offers increased visibility as well as a parking lot to the rear of the building hidden from passing cars.
The center also offers parenting, abstinence and after-abortion support.
In the 29 years of its operation, Donna Landers has seen some beautiful stories come out of very difficult circumstances. Wiley's art, she said, helps embody that.
"God uses the painful things in our lives to turn that around and allow us to minister to others," Landers said.

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