Our Native Son
The Woman of Samaria, depicted in The Light Within, was sculpted circa 1857 by William Henry Rinehart, who was born not far from Community Bridge. During his meteoric career, Rinehart made it a practice to assist struggling young artists, and he left his fortune to "the promotion of interest in and cultivation of taste for art," a goal shared by The Delaplaine Visual Arts Center, located across from The Light Within. It has been written that "beauty first entered American sculpture with Rinehart," and he is still considered one of America's finest neoclassic sculptors.
Rinehart's only biblical work, this sculpture depicts the woman of Samaria who met Jesus at a well. An enemy to him by race and religion, inferior by sex and of disreputable background (by the social mores of the day), she offered him a drink and he offered her "living water." This sculpture is symbolic of how basic resources, such as well water - and the "living water" of our various spiritualities - become meeting places, where superficial differences are irrelevant. The inner value of our common humanity transcends all such distinctions.
During the Bridge Builders Outreach one individual, Robert Snoots, suggested a well as his symbol because communities grew around water sources and wells "became a meeting place for women coming to fill their jugs or pitchers. A good bit of chatting probably took place here." Community Bridge spans the creek that was the birthplace for the city in which it is found.
An Inner Spark
This section of the mural stands in part as a salute to The Delaplaine Visual Arts Center, where residents today have opportunities young Rinehart did not. It emphasizes our shared values as expressed in our great spiritual and creative traditions, both of which nurture our common "light within."