Historical restoration of the Jesus artwork
The iconic artwork of Jesus on the Wooden Cross (INRI) has been returned to its rightful place above the altar at the Roman Catholic Church La Virgen Del Carmen in Groot Kwartier after an extensive and precise restoration. The restoration, a project that took more than two months, was made possible by the generous support of a private donor, who recognized the historical and cultural significance of the artwork.
This timeless depiction of Jesus, believed to be several centuries old, has undergone numerous restorations throughout its long history. Unfortunately, not all of these previous restorations were carried out under professional supervision, as restorer Serena Israel explains. This recent restoration, supervised by Mrs. Israel, aimed to repair the damage of the past and return the work of art to its former glory, while respecting its history.
Ms Israel has a wealth of experience because she is trained as a professional restorer in Berlin, Germany in 1989 at the Nature & Ethnology Museum and in 1991 worked at the Egyptian and Pergamon Museum on famous sculptures of Greek gods and Egyptian pharaohs. She shared her restoration experience and emphasized the importance of preserving the many layers of the artwork as part of its historical significance. In her words: “The layers of the artwork are part of the history of the object and that is why we restored it to its last known appearance. This approach preferred not to remove and repaint the layers of paint, as has often been done in recent decades. This misunderstanding led to sculptures being completely painted over due to the changing fashion or taste of the time.”
The restoration process was painstaking, requiring the removal of screws and old repairs, mainly on the fingers and toes, and restoring them to their original condition. Serena Israel and her dedicated team worked hard to ensure that the historical integrity of the artwork remained intact.
The restoration of the artwork was necessary due to various factors. Over time, the arms of the Jesus statue had become loose, probably due to old age and previous interventions. Furthermore, during the COVID-19 period, when the church was not used regularly, the statue suffered damage from bird droppings, further exacerbating the need for restoration.
The restoration process included addressing the technical issues with the sculpture, replacing old repairs and restoring the artwork to its original appearance. A careful process that required the skills and expertise of Ms. Serena Israel and her team.
The momentous occasion of re-installing the INRI above the altar was done on December 22nd, 2023. Pastor Padre Oscar & Serena Israel were present when the artwork was raised to a height of approximately 4 meters from the floor, where it can once again inspire and fascinate the community.
This restoration project is a testament to the commitment to preserving and celebrating the rich history and heritage of the church in Groot Kwartier. It also underscores the value of art and cultural artifacts in our community, and the role of committed individuals and donors in ensuring their preservation for future generations.
The residents of Curaçao are very welcome to visit our beloved church in Groot Kwartier and view the restored work of art of Jesus above the altar. As the holidays approach, church becomes a place of reflection, celebration and togetherness. We believe that experiencing the beauty and serenity of our church during this special time of year can be a truly meaningful and memorable experience. It would be an honor to share the spirit of the season with the community.