James Lynch said people will read a lot into the destruction Monday night of his creation, Solid Rock Church’s King of Kings statue now in ruins off of Interstate 75 in Monroe.
Some will see its dramatic burning as a sign from God, but Lynch said he doesn’t.
“Thing happen for no reason sometimes,” the Jacksonville Beach, Fla., sculptor said by phone Tuesday, June 15. “My reason is that it just got struck by lightning. Your spiritual beliefs are your personal beliefs.”
Lynch said the Brad Coriell-designed work was one of the highest structures between its location and Cincinnati.
“Perhaps that was the reason why it was struck,” he said, noting that the rural area is known for bad weather.
Lynch said he has constructed similar structures of fiberglass, Styrofoam and steel for more than 35 years as part of his work with the casino and amusement park industries.
Such materials are commonly used for outdoor public art, said Susan Byrnes, a sculptor and director of the University of Dayton’s ArtStreet arts complex.
Byrnes said large structures can be built from Styrofoam because its is easy to cut and shape. “For something of that sort of scale, they wouldn’t want to add weight to it, so obviously it’s pretty lightweight,” she said.
The foam “probably would be pretty flammable” if it didn’t include a fire retardant, Byrnes said.
Lynch said that this was the first time one of his works has been hit by lightning.
The King of Kings statue cost an estimated $250,000 to $560,000 to construct, Lynch said.
“To do something that massive out of stone (or metal) would be millions,” he said.
Nicknamed “Big Butter Jesus” after the novelty song by comedian Heywood Banks, the hollow statue weighed 16,000 pounds and was Lynch’s tallest piece. It was erected starting in June 2004, and took one year to complete.
Lynch said he would like to help in its reconstruction.
He said he was proud of his work, which has been praised and criticized.
“As an artist to lift emotion is what you want,” he said. “Love it or hate it, you can’t ignore it.”
Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2384 or arobinson@DaytonDailyNews.com.