Ten years ago, Dave Hanson retired from his job as a corrections officer at California's Folsom State Prison. Now the 71-year-old works full-time to create sculptures of Padre Pio, St. Francis and other figures for schools and institutions across the country.
'At one point, I began to inquire about Padre Pio,' Hanson told CNA. 'I knew only that he was a saint and had displayed the Lord's stigmata. The more I studied him, the more committed I became.'
'After completing the bust, I was able to place copies in various Catholic schools in the Sacramento area, and am currently placing one at the Padre Pio Academy in Ohio,' he explained.
Hanson's years as a corrections officer made him want to bring beauty and goodness into the world through his art. But his Catholic faith also helped him see his 'day job' as a calling from God.
'If you wish to provide a Christian service to someone, prison is the place to work,' he noted.
A turning point in Hanson's career came when he made a sculpture of an angel, in response to a heartbreaking case in which a mother was convicted of beating her son to death.