Garret McCall, a 25-year-old from New Germany, recently took first place in the adult category in Pennsylvania Farm Show's annual butter sculpture contest. This year, the contest was held virtually.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I graduated from Saint Vincent College in Latrobe in 2018, majoring in organismal biology in hopes of attending medical school. Upon graduating, I decided that medicine was no longer my passion.
I currently work at the family business, McCall Motors in Ebensburg. This is a temporary job as I figure out my future endeavors. I am looking into pursuing art as a possible career, however I have also been discerning possibly joining a religious order.
What other art projects you have been involved in?
I have worked on numerous art projects throughout my life. I am always creating something. I enjoy working with different mediums. If I see something interesting, I love to give it a try.
Did you ever do a sculpture before?
I have sculpted with clay in the past, but It wasn’t until about two years ago that I started sculpting with unusual mediums such as fruits, vegetables, pumpkins, pie dough and, recently, butter.
How difficult was it to sculpt with butter?
Working with butter is definitely a challenge.
You can work with clay in just about any environment, but with butter there are a lot of factors to take into account. For starters, your environment has to be very cold. If it is warm outside or inside, the butter will be nearly impossible to sculpt.
Most people don’t own a walk-in fridge/freezer, so you have to work with the weather. I worked in my garage with the windows open where the temp was about 30 °F.
Your hands also have to be very cold (practically numb is best), so that your body heat does not melt the butter. Having cold hands was probably the most challenging aspect.
The sculpture consisted of five pounds of butter.
With all the prep work, design, and sculpting, it probably took somewhere around 25 to 30 hours total to complete. I did it over four nights.
Will you do anything like this again?
I sculpted The Good Shepherd for the PA Farm Show and, recently, completed The Ascension sculpture, also made out of butter. It weighs about 10 pounds and is displayed at Vale Wood Farms in Loretto.
I will continue to pursue sculpting with butter and have been in touch with the PA Farm Show. There is a possibility that I will be able to help out with the large 1,000-pound sculpture next year. That would be really cool because Pennsylvania has the largest farm show in the nation and the butter sculpture is always one of the main attractions.
What did you do with the sculpture after the contest?
I kept the sculpture for a couple weeks and then deconstructed it. I salvaged as much butter as I could. Most people think that the butter would still be good for cooking, but dust and lint particles work their way onto the butter over time.
Why did you choose The Good Shepherd as your subject matter?
The PA Farm Show did not have a theme for the contest, so I chose to incorporate my faith and agriculture into the design.
The past few years, I have battled with depression and finding my purpose in life. Being out of school gave me an opportune time to re-evaluate my life.
For once I stopped asking what I wanted with my life and instead started asking what God wanted with my life.
Through my faith I have discovered that we all have a very specific purpose. We all have our own unique talents and I am a strong believer that our talents are our gifts to us and what we do with them is our gift back to God.
Whatever we do, no matter how small or insignificant something may seem, we are all called to spread the light of Christ.
It was nice to see the positive feedback from voters and many found it inspirational – considering the state of the world. Saint Gerard Majella said it best, “Who except God can give you peace? Has the world ever been able to satisfy the heart?”