Man's faith takes on creative expressions

March 19, 2004|EMILY BURTON

HUSTONVILLE - His work is fueled by biscuits and gravy at McDonald's almost every morning. His passionate art is fueled by devoted recitals of the Lord's Prayer and several simple rules. Be good to people. Share the last biscuit. Be open to God's presence.

"I'd carve it in stone if I could. So what I've done is the next best thing. I've made it a lot of my work," says Bill Woodrum.

Artist Woodrum insists he is no different than the next man, but his vision of the world, and the ways in which he explores the mysteries of God's love, is anything but common.

Through his woodworking, paintings, sculptures and writings, Woodrum helps turn people's eye toward the unseen and simultaneously, their faith.

"From where I stand/ If you please/ The cool breath of morning is warmed by/ the suns first gleaming drying the dewy sweet/ tears of natures early offering," he writes in his poem "From where I stand".


A devout member of Grace Lutheran Church of Winchester, he has become a strong participant of their outreach program through word and art.

"I try every day to do a little bit, and I believe the end result of that happening is my own satisfaction," says Woodrum.

His reach has surpassed state lines

Lately his reach has surpassed state lines. Woodrum's art - religious or otherwise - has expanded beyond local fame into the parlors of New York, Washington, D.C., and Germany.

His work is as simple as a wooden flower carved for his wife and as complex as a lighted model of the Mars Rover in a bottle, toiling over a void of heaven and hell.

In one drawing, Woodrum shows the hands of God poised over a pinwheel of color, swirling through the seven days of creation. In another, sinners and the saintly mesh together in Picasso style to fill the frame, forming visual questions of Woodrum's own faith.

"I could sit here for two hours and try to convince you to believe in something, and unless you want to believe it, it's all for naught, but a picture ..." says Woodrum, a picture is worth a thousand words. "You have to want to believe."

Woodrum's faith and enthusiasm for giving has led him to speak at local nursing homes and hospitals as an outreach ambassador for his church. Through his visits to local venues, he realized that the word of God was missing in many places.

Twenty-six calls later, Woodrum had boxes of Bibles and plenty of people who wanted them, including firemen, nurses and daycare centers.

"People have been so appreciative and grateful. They act like they've never seen a Bible before," says Woodrum.

His public forays include educational presentations as well. Woodrum has been known to become Bill Pickle for elementary classes, providing animated presentations that "combine the folk art at a level the children can understand," he says, and pickle samples.

His bright poetry comes, in part, from a darker era. Woodrum's vision and faith was forged while growing up in America during World War II .

"In 1942, our world was in turmoil. It didn't mean anything to me then, but (I was three) and there was some awfully potent impressions made on me. Later on, as I did grow, these things started taking on a life ... Times were very, very bad back then for a lot of people. Adults were dealing with a lot of raw emotion, and the children, all they could do is feel these things."

Strain of war brought prayer into his life

The strain of the war was a force that brought prayer into his life and affects his faith even today, says Woodrum.

"I was scared about what would happen to me and my family, and I honestly didn't know what to do." In a surplus junk yard behind his house, a young Woodrum sat in the dark in a Packard Clipper and had his first brush with God.

"I felt like I was trying to say a little kid's prayer, and I can't tell you what I said, but I can tell you, two days later, it got better. And I never lost sight of that. That was the very first time I realized we are not alone. Something was there, something was there."

He says prayer is that something that saved him as a Western Union delivery boy bringing death notices to families, when he served in the Marine Corps, and today, as he works to expand the faith of those around him.

"Religion is in the everyday. If you have an opportunity to create something good, you do it," says Woodrum. "The Holy Spirit is in all of us, but you have to give it a chance."

"From where I stand/ tomorrow is only a breath away, and if,/ it pleases you Tomorrow?

Come Stand, Where I Stand."

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