A couple of years ago, the figures used in the stop-motion animation production of Davey and Goliath’s Snowboard Christmas
— along with a built-to-scale snowcat model – were delivered to the
archives from the ELCA’s Communication Services unit – the producers of
the animated special. This past Monday, I decided it was time to change
the exhibits in our display cases. For one shelf in a case, I decided to
go with these Davey and Goliath figures. I thought, “how fun –
most people think of old, musty, slightly boring things when the think
of an archives. This is a chance to showcase the archives’ fun and
quirky side of Lutheranism.”
My training is not in museum studies, so creating a display is new to me. I wanted the scene to look semi-realistic, so for snow I placed thin sheets of packing foam on the glass shelf. I discovered that while a character as posed on a table surface seemed stable, when I placed it on the “snow” it became a little wobbly. After several attempts at posing the figures with their snowboards I thought I had succeeded in getting it right. Many of the characters from the special were there: Davey, Goliath, Sally, Jonathan, Sam, Cisco, Yasmeen, Ranger Ava, the owl, the bear, and a person described in the credits as “Smug Kid.” Sally kept falling over so I posed her sitting in the snow — she is wearing snowboard pants so she can handle sitting in the snow for the duration. When I left for the night, everybody was in place and looking, well – animated.
When I arrived at work the next morning, the first thing I did was
check the case. Bummer. Sometime during the night, Sam had done a face
plant. Everyone else was still in place, but what would happen when the
room gets vacuumed and the case is bumped? Would everybody hold their
ground and maintain their pose or would they all topple over? My
co-worker Joel suggested replacing the foam sheets with packing peanuts
which I could sprinkle in after posing the figures directly on the glass
shelf. It seemed to work. Everyone was on much more stable footing
right on the glass and sprinkling in the packing peanuts made it look a
little more like they were all gathered at the base of the mountain
after a fine day of shredding (for you non-snowboarders, shredding
basically means to slide down the mountain). But the test would be
overnight. If I arrived the next morning and found Sam in the same
face-plant position as before, I would be totally discouraged.
The next morning when I checked the case, Davey and friends were just where I had left them – all waiting to take a ride on the ski lift to begin another trip down the mountain. Ranger Ava was corralling the owl and the bear was in the middle of deciding whether or not it was worth it to try and disrupt the afternoon’s snowboarding activities.
The success of a more stable surface for Davey and his friends got me thinking about what it means to be Lutheran. Faith is about a having a sure footing. And for Lutherans, knowing that God’s grace through faith is present every day in our lives is our stable foundation – the thing that keeps us from continually doing face plants in the snow. About this Martin Luther would say to all snowboarders, “this is most certainly true, dude.”One thing about our display – those looking closely at the photograph will notice Davey is missing one eye. At the archives we don’t alter anything that is sent to us. So that means no repairs to the Davey figure. Instead, I’ve given him the backstory that he lost his eye in a freak snowboarding accident. Oh Davey.