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After 25 years as an operatic soprano, Angela Johnson had a realization that changed her life, and a goal that would change others’ lives forever.
Johnson, a Utah local, is a famed sculptor and the creator of The Light of the World Garden. The garden has 15 exhibits, all depictions of Christ’s life. The exhibit will be a permanent installation in one of Thanksgiving Point’s themed gardens.
For Johnson, the decision to become a sculptor came after a life-altering understanding.
[media-credit name=”Luke Hansen” align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]”It was a very intense creative experience,” Johnson said. “It happened right after my own personal realization that I was never going to accomplish the apex of my vocal goals. It was right at the minute that that was collapsing in me, that I went to the art store, bought clay, one tool and four hours later there was a portrait on the kitchen table. It happened instantly.”
The inspiration to sculpt depictions of Christ also came directly from a spiritual experience, Johnson said.
“In 2003, probably three years after I had started to sculpt, I knew this was a gift from God,” Johnson said. “I asked Him what he wanted me to do with it. A concept of the sculpture garden depicting the teachings and miracles of Christ came to me. The very first scene I sculpted was Jesus walking on water. It’s one of the monumental pieces in the garden right now.”
Eileen Ragsdale, head of the Thanksgiving Point exhibit, said in addition to being an incredible artist, Johnson is quite personable as well.
“She’s very vivacious,” Ragsdale said. “She’s spiritual and outgoing and when you meet her, why, you just immediately like her.”
Ragsdale said Johnson’s work is sure to affect all who lay eyes upon it.
“I have seen grown men look upon her depiction of Christ and tears come down their cheeks,” Ragsdale said. “She has captured the spirit of Christianity — sculptures of Christ are just magnificent.”
Johnson’s publicist Jennifer Durrant said part of Johnson’s drive comes from wanting to achieve her goals.
“She is passionate, so very passionate,” Durrant said. “Not only for her art, but for the goal of her ‘I Am The Light of the World Foundation.'”
Johnson started the nonprofit organization to help fund her Thanksgiving Point exhibit.
“She wants this permanent installation to be something that people from across the world can come and enjoy,” Durrant said. “It’s in a beautiful setting, a grove of trees. Like a little sacred grove. She is such a talented artist. I was in absolute awe over the work that she has done. It will be simply stunning.”
Durrant said it will especially hit home for students who attend a religious institution, who have had a lifetime of reading the scriptures.
“The raising of Lazarus, the healing of the leper. People will have an opportunity to actually see a rendering, or a lifelike depiction of what they have read about in the scriptures all your life,” Durrant said. “It’s going to be incredible; a very peaceful, personal and spiritual experience for all who attend.”
It is an experience that will hopefully inspire all, Johnson said.
“It’s an incredible powerful example of how visions can be realized,” she said. “There are surprises in life — I didn’t start sculpting until my late thirties. With hard work and with everything that I have learned, this is a tangible manifestation of my testimony. Passion, taking skills and working can cause amazing things to happen.”