Creation of the Week 57 - Chris Alles' St. Charles Borromeo

In this day and age, it sometimes seems like practically anything can be called art, and no questions are asked. So when we come across a true masterpiece, the breathtaking result of decades of the painstakingly determined mastery of a centuries-old craft, it is a stunning accomplishment.  This is exactly what Chris Alles has achieved.  

This week we’re featuring Chris for his bronze-cast statue of St. Charles Borromeo that he created for the church of St. Charles Borromeo in Montgomery Township, NJ. A brief visit to his website portfolio reveals that his talents go far beyond his bronzework, but that’s the focus of today’s post. Check out Chris’ freelancer profile or portfolio.

Chris is a sculptor currently residing in New York.  He began drawing at the age of two, but it was not until sixteen years later that he began to take art seriously. His passion for art ultimately led him to Florence, Italy, where he apprenticed for six months under sculptor Dony MacManus. 

There, he discovered the beauty and power of the Italian Renaissance masters, and in the presence of the raw energy of their work, he encountered the need to become a sculptor.

After his time in Italy, Christopher returned to his hometown of Portland, Oregon and continued his studies with Polish sculptor Tomasz Misztal. Under Misztal’s guidance, he discovered how to link the influence of the past with that of the present. 

Consequently, his work often references and quotes artists ranging from the Renaissance to the early to mid-twentieth century. The primary process behind the creation of his art consists of a study from the past and its development to now, then responding to the contemporary world in light of this study.

Christopher has been commissioned for projects throughout the US, from church restoration projects to religious statuary, including most recently a set of reliquaries for the St. Joseph Dominican Province.

In 2018, Monsignor Gregory Malovetz, pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Montgomery Township, NJ, commissioned Christopher Alles to sculpt an image of the saint. The pastor and artist decided together to depict a typical scene from the Saint’s life: St. Charles serving the poor. Christopher decided to focus on the penitential aspect of this relationship, showing Borromeo receiving the poor man’s confession. Here one can clearly see quotes from Rembrandt’s famous Prodigal Son painting.

We must meditate before, during and after everything we do. The prophet says: ‘I will pray, and then I will understand.’ This is the way we can easily overcome the countless difficulties we have to face day after day, which, after all, are part of our work. In meditation we find the strength to bring Christ to birth in ourselves and in others.
— St. Charles Borromeo

If I have learned anything from Chris, it’s to never give up in the pursuit of mastery.  We are all given gifts and talents that it is our task to develop, perfect, and ultimately put at the service of God and others.  It’s precisely in the often unrewarding daily drudgery, the small steps towards perfection, that from our own clay we will one day find our own masterpiece taking shape.

Feel free to contact Chris, or hire him if you’re in the market for timeless bronze masterpieces.

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by Nik Sternhagen

Marketing Specialist at Catholic Support Services