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Designer/Fabricator of Liturgical Furnishings: Dean Ludwig Location: Toledo Ohio
Photos: provided by Dean Ludwig
My desire as an artist is to use the creative gifts that I have been given for the greater service of the world and the greater glory of God. My goal as a designer/craftsman of liturgical furnishings is to give material expression to the dreams and ideals of worshiping communities so that their prayer and liturgy might be enhanced by the work of my hands. I see my role, therefore, as that of interpreter and translator. When I am working with a worship community, I try to understand what makes them unique—or what defines their collective gift—and make the design of their liturgical furnishings an expression of that uniqueness. It is this collective gift that worship communities raise up to God and offer to the world.
The person I consider my primary mentor in making furniture is the renowned woodworker, Sam Maloof. Sam once observed: “I have always believed that people who work with their hands have a communion between themselves and their material. When the user of the object enters, the result is a triune of the object maker, the material, and the owner. . . .The reverence that the object maker has for the materials, for the shape, and for the miracle of his skill transcends to God, the Master Craftsman, the Creator of all things, who uses us, our hands, as His tools to make these beautiful objects.”* It has been a privilege to enter that triune relationship with a wide array of worship communities to, in some small way, enhance the quality of their worship.
Each of us has been blessed with gifts that we need to give to the world if we are to become the unique individuals—or community of individuals—that God intends us to be. For much of my life, working with wood was merely a passionate hobby; I made my living using my gifts as a university professor. When I turned 40, however, I could no longer keep my creative gifts to myself. I had to share them with the world. I gave up a comfortable position as a tenured professor of business and decided I would make my living as an artist. Probably because I had spent 12 years of my early adult life as a Jesuit, I quickly found myself creating key furnishings for churches.
The Jesuit motto, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (A.M.D.G.), translates, “For the Greater Glory of God.” It is from this motto that springs the Jesuit concept of magis—what more can I do to use my gifts for the greater glory of God. On the bottom of each piece I make, I inscribe my name and the initials “A.M.D.G.” I pray that the works of my hands so speak.
*from Sam Maloof, Woodworker by Sam Maloof and Jonathan Fairbanks, 1983