Local artist Mollie Munro will reveal her commissioned cross to the residents of Presbyterian Village during a special presentation on Wednesday, July 17, at 3:30 p.m. in the retirement community’s chapel.
Mollie Munro’s day job is the Director of Operations and co-owner of Munro & Company, a manufacturer of women’s shoes since 1960. However, she is becoming well known for her wood sculptures.
“I am fortunate to have a “day job” that allows me to do the art I love,” Munro says. This successful family owned business is now having third-generation family members involved in its operations. Munro spends most of her time at the manufacturing facility in Clarksville, while the corporate headquarters is in Hot Springs.
While Munro obtained a degree in business economics, she has always loved drawing and painting. Her husband, Tod “Switch” Swiecichowski, an award-winning sculptor who is active in the Arkansas Sculptors Show each year in Little Rock, works primarily in metal and stone. He heard about a wood class at UALR and asked Mollie if she would like to take the class with him. Mollie was a little hesitant at first, not being a huge fan of power tools.
However, Munro fell in love with the medium and loves the beauty in a piece of natural wood. “Wood was alive, and the grain and color tell you the story of its life if you know how to read it, “she says.
Each sculpture that she creates is inspired by her own opinion, observation or feeling. In 2013, two of Mollie’s wood sculptures were accepted by the 55thDelta Exhibition.
Melissa Jenkins, Director of Development at Presbyterian Village, reached out to Mollie and asked if she and her husband Tod would be interested in creating a cross for Presbyterian Village’s new chapel. The new chapel was completed in 2018. In addition to worship and spiritual activities, the Chapel hosts numerous weekly programs for residents.
After talking with family and friends to learn more about the facility, Munro decided to take the challenge. Mollie loves the contemporary look of the chapel and submitted a proposal of several designs. Mollie’s favorite was selected out of the designs.
The cross is being fabricated by Tod along with Dr. Randy Rhea from a combination of maple, walnut, and purple heart woods. Rhea, a prominent Little Rock dentist, is also a custom wood and furniture maker. “When using multiple grains in a piece, you have to be very careful in the construction process because grains will expand and shrink differently if too dissimilar,” Munro says.
The cross is 48 inches tall and weighs approximately 20 pounds. It is also double-sided, with one side showing just the maple and walnut, and the other side showing all three woods. This decision, Munro says, is because of the religious significance of the purple heart wood, which she says has a religious importance that will allow it to be used on special occasions.
Both Mollie and Tod are thrilled and honored to be a part of designing a piece that will be enjoyed by the Little Rock community for years to come.
Presbyterian Village is one of the longest serving retirement communities in Arkansas and pioneered a non-profit resident centered care for elders in the state.
The mission of Presbyterian Village is to provide comprehensive, continuing care for older adults that promote health, comfort, security, and spiritual wellbeing in a living environment that fosters personal dignity and independence.