by Amanda Schwarze
New life was recently given to a dead stump in front of Lyndale Lutheran Church in Independence.
The congregation donated money to bring renowned chain saw artist Curtis Ingvoldstad to the church. After discussing the project for a while, Ingvoldstad came up with a design of two hands coming together with flames shooting out of the fingers. He was at the church from Monday, Nov. 11, through Thursday, Nov. 14, carving and painting the sculpture.
“People are very, very excited about it,” Lyndale Pastor Gale Reitan said. “From young to old, people are embracing it.”
Interpretations of the sculpture have varied among the congregation. Reitan said some people see God’s hands, while others see human hands that have the Holy Spirit in them.
The sculpture was even used in the children’s worship during the Nov. 17 service. Children were asked to look at the sculpture and imagine what God could help turn them into if he could turn an old tree into that sculpture.
The man responsible for the sculpture is known around the country and the world for his work. Ingvoldstad earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota where he studied video production and studio arts. After graduation, he spent about five years working in the video production field.
“I got tired of it; there wasn’t a lot of variety,” Ingvoldstad said.
He then began making his living in art. He picked up a chain saw when he decided he wanted to work on a larger scale. For about seven years now, Ingvoldstad has been working full time creating wood sculptures with his chain saw.
Ingvoldstad lives with his wife and son in Nerstrand, near Northfield. On his property, he also has a studio, but most of his work is done wherever his clients live. He travels around the state and country creating sculptures.
One of his clients is a Civil War collector who commissioned Ingvoldstad to go to Iowa to create a sculpture of Abraham Lincoln. After more discussions with the man, the design morphed into a Civil War totem that includes the busts of Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, George Armstrong Custer, Robert E. Lee, T.J. “Stonewall” Jackson and Jefferson Davis. That same client also commissioned Ingvoldstad to create a sculpture of Davis attempting to flee the Union while wearing his wife’s dress.
Wildlife such as eagles, bear and fish are popular subjects for his clients. Ingvoldstad also has carved gnomes, fairies, a “Wizard of Oz” totem, a dragon and an exploding bottle of beer. He said that he’ll carve pretty much anything, but he will not create a sculpture that is meant to offend anyone. So when someone requests a sculpture that includes a beautiful scene on one side and has a rude gesture aimed a neighbor on the other side, Ingvoldstad turns down the job.
In addition to working on commissioned art, Ingvoldstad also competes internationally. During the competitions, artists are given a piece of wood and a certain amount of time to create a sculpture. The competitions have taken him as far away as Japan and as close as Wisconsin. He recently earned a second-place finish in the U.S. Open Chainsaw Sculpture Competition in Eau Claire, Wis.
More information about Ingvoldstad and photos of some of his sculptures are available on his website at www.woodsculpture.net.
Lyndale Lutheran Church is located at 8012 County Road 6 in Independence.
Contact Amanda Schwarze at [email protected]