By H. Lynn Gardner
Marv Dahmen, a retired art teacher, serves as a deacon of the Christian Church of Carl Junction, Missouri. Through rocks, cars, and sculptures, his creativity abounds.
Art with Rocks
Since age 5 Marv has loved rocks. At age 13 he began to cut and polish stones and make jewelry.
Collecting rocks and minerals has been a lifetime hobby. He is an expert on mining in the area around Joplin. As a young man he explored mines with a retired miner, searching for valuable rocks and minerals. Marv said, “Like most lapidaries, I love to cut gemstones. . . . Beautiful crystals are a bonus God sprinkled on the earth.” He wants his jewelry to be simple and interesting.
Art with Cars
When Marv was 13 he bought his first car—a 1929 Ford mail truck with a square body. His dad made cars run, while Marv said, “I would concentrate on the bodywork, which is the artistic part of it. I think my car work put me into art, and now art gets me into car work.” In high school he built his first car, a 1930 Ford.
He prefers antique cars. “For the most part, I buy parts and pieces and put them together.” Restoration projects include a 1939 Packard Model 110 sedan and a 1920 Dodge touring car, four-door convertible. An exception is his 1941 Packard stretch limo convertible sedan that he bought for $300 in 1968.
Art with Sculptures
Marv learned to weld in high school. One evening after hours while attending Pittsburg State University, he sneaked into the art department and welded a small sculpture of a fish. The head of the department caught him, then said, “You should sign up for a sculpture class.” He became a fine arts major, earning a bachelor and masters in sculpture.
While teaching art, he found that most students have some artistic ability. Marv wanted to bring creativity out of each student.
His art productions span a wide spectrum. He makes assemblages by using materials he picks up from old cars, typewriters, and farm equipment that he finds at junk yards and auctions. He created a teapot using the cast-iron spear of a hog oiler with the spout and other parts from farm equipment. In eight hours he fashioned a rocking chair almost entirely from car parts that he welded together. He has worked with pottery and other art forms, but his main productions have been sculptures and jewelry.
Christ Changed Marv Dahmen’s Perspective
However, rocks, cars, and sculptures do not define Marv Dahmen. Marv became a Christian at 35 years of age. “God gave us five senses to know the world. Artists use materials, such as paint or music, to create something that will help people appreciate the world. God gave us the talent, so using it pleases him. Both religious and nonreligious art can glorify God.”
Marv had accepted evolution, but the study of Genesis and the evidence from biology, especially DNA, convinced him of design and creation by God. In his sculptures of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals, he puts a watch part or other indicator of recent times to cause the viewer to question the evolution theory.
In the church he attends, he made the hallway in the children’s area look like a biblical street by crafting Styrofoam to look like stones. In the children’ worship center, Dahmen painted a 42-foot mural depicting a biblical village.
As a freelance commercial sculptor and jewelry designer, he expresses his creativity through rocks, cars, and all kinds of art, but what best defines Marv Dahmen is that he does it for the glory of God.
H. Lynn Gardner is a retired Bible college professor and academic dean living in Carl Junction, Missouri.