Expressing his faith

The Lamb of God — the symbol of Christ and his sacrifice for humanity — seems to burst in radiance from the center of a piece of wood.

This is Peter Jansen’s first true work of art. The piece was crafted as a gift for friends, a group of nuns who were moving into a new monastery.

From that moment, Jansen chose to express his faith through his artistic abilities in woodworking.

“I find it very meditative,” he said. “I’ve done other kinds of things, but most of my artwork has been religious pieces.”

He creates wood-relief carvings of religious imagery and icons, translating the sacred into three-dimensional scenes. Jansen’s love of workworking has developed over only the past five years. He taught himself so that he could have projects to work on when he was home from college in the summer.

“It just blossomed from there,” he said.

He has assembled and carved ornate decoration on a unique garden picnic table for his family. When he was in college and wanted to maximize space in his dorm room, he built a loft bed and used his carving skills to embellish it.

As Jansen developed his skill, he focused on religious imagery.

When he’s creating a new piece, he gets an idea of the design he wants on the wood. Once’s he’s decided on what it should look like, he pencils the design on the wood and starts the carving.

Jansen prefers to carve hard woods such as oak, maple and walnut. But the type of wood also depends on the appearance he’s aiming for.

One of his pieces depicts the Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart images.

“I used cherry wood because it has a reddish-brown look to it. It was really subtle, but it had a nice red look when it was finished,” he said.

Jansen’s projects have come in all sizes and appearances, but his largest work is also his favorite. The 2-foot-by-7-foot tableau centers around the notion of Vox Christi, or the Voice of Christ. His intention for the scene was to show different people listening to Christ in their lives.

“There was a lot of thematic depth to the carving. All of the pieces work on different levels,” he said. “That was my favorite, just because of the time it took to do it.”

The Jansen File

Peter Jansen

Home: Evansville

Media: Wood

Focus: Religious imagery

Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2727.