Mural artist adds to beauty of St. Mary’s Church in New England

The creator of the ornate wall mural on the side of St. Mary’s Catholic Church has added another piece of art of the congregation, and the community to enjoy.

The grotto outside of St. Mary’s Catholic Church is on the north end of the property. The statue of the Virgin Mary stands at 3.5 feet. (Herald Photo by Cole Benz)

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor
cbenz@countrymedia.net

The creator of the ornate wall mural on the side of St. Mary’s Catholic Church has added another piece of art of the congregation, and the community to enjoy.

The Nigerian-born Dotun Popoola—who also painted a mural in Lemmon and is the planning stages of creating one in Hettinger—has created more of a 3-D project.

He has built a grotto, or a cave-like structure, and honored the Virgin Mary with a 3.5-foot statue inside.

“[It’s] more like a sacred venue where [you can] communicate with Mary,” Popoola said.

Popoola used petrified wood for the grotto shrine. It is built up to a point, with a base of a circle slab of concrete.

The statue of Mary was built from a mold Popoola designed in Nigeria. He brought the mold with him from Nigeria and cast the statue inside the church.

The project was about seven months in length, from start to finish.

“The execution took me one month, but the process in totality took about six months,” he said.

Popoola said he had to start from scratch. And had to do some graphic design, structural design, and pick the dimensions of the grotto.

Moving the statue was a multiple-person job, it is over 300 pounds. Four people carried it out. The weight allows it to be an all-season shrine, heavy enough to withstand the high winds the region faces.

The new shrine sits on the east side of Main Street on the north grounds of the church.

The grotto was officially commissioned by the Bishop from Bismarck on Sunday, April 23 at the church.

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