About the Renovation
Biola University’s Calvary Chapel, constructed in 1975, has served the university community as a central place of worship and instruction for more than 40 years. In the summer of 2018 — thanks to the generosity of Biola supporters and the creative vision of world-renowned artists Peter Brandes and Maja Lisa Engelhardt — this important building was completely transformed, adding a new dimension of sacred space, reverence and beauty that will enrich the campus and beyond.
The renovated chapel features 32 beautiful, handcrafted stained-glass windows and two large gilded sculptures, all created around the central theme of the Resurrection. The interior is divided into four spaces, like the edges of a cross. Each features stained-glass windows that were carefully created by Brandes to depict key passages of Scripture. Engelhardt produced two sculptures, a cross over the entrance and the stunning relief wall. Additionally, significant changes were made to the walls, color palette and chairs, and newly-woven carpet and handcrafted benches made from 200-year-old Danish Oak have been installed. Collectively, these works testify powerfully to the redemptive work of Christ’s life, death and resurrection — and inspire his followers with a vision of the glory to come.
About the Art
As you enter the chapel, you pass under one of two sculpture works by Maja Lisa Engelhardt: the cross. This sculpture does not directly include a depiction of Christ on the cross, but his presence is not wholly absent — as one can see impressions along the center and at the hands, alluding to the crucifixion as a finished work. The crucifixion here is not a dark symbol of death, but rather a radiant symbol of the victory won.
One of the most striking features in Calvary Chapel is the 31-by-18-foot gold relief sculpture that depicts the resurrected Christ emerging from the tomb, radiant with glory. The sculpture is designed to draw you into the space, attracting you to the light and color. This impressive sculpture was hand-carved from five tons of clay, and then cast in plaster. Once cast, the plaster was gilded with different karats of gold. This creates the changes in color with the purest, 24-karat gold shining in the middle.
Each of chapel’s 32 stained-glass windows was created in two forms: a black-and white version visible from the outside, and vibrant full-color version facing into the space. Placed between each of these panes of glass is a crystallized sheet of plexiglass illuminated by LEDs — innovative technology that allows the windows to be experienced day and night.
Meet the Artists
Peter Brandes and Maja Lisa Engelhardt are two of Denmark’s leading artists. Brandes is a painter, sculptor, ceramic artist and photographer. He holds the record for having created (11 times) the largest ceramic vessels in the history of the world. Engelhardt is well regarded as an abstract painter with representation at the Elizabeth Harris Gallery in New York City and in galleries throughout Europe. Both Brandes and Engelhardt — a married couple — are involved in liturgical design. During the past 25 years, they have been credited in large part for a renaissance in Danish church interiors. Independently, they have made work for over 20 churches with stained-glass, painted altarpieces, floor coverings, mosaics, vestments and metal work, all essential components of their extensive ecclesiastical projects. Biola’s Calvary Chapel is the first collaborative project they have completed together.