National Artist Search/Competition
United Stated Air Force
East Window (Altar): Enlightenment
West Window: Reach Out
Designing stained glass for this multi-denominational chapel provided an opportunity to examine ideas common to the major faiths.
The designs for these two windows contain the only significant curved lines and shapes in the entire chapel. They provide a symbolic escape from our built-environment into a spiritual realm beyond. Residing 24 feet above the floor, their designs also called for simple imagery. Heavy existing window mullions were softened by the new stained glass designs, allowing the full expanse of window to seemingly float freely just beyond the plane of the window.
Hovering above the focal point of worship in the chapel, the East (Altar) Window very appropriately and dramatically reminds us that this is indeed Holy Ground. Regardless of one’s religious expectations, the omniscience and omnipotence of God is reiterated in the stained glass. As the warmer, brighter color descends to illuminate and push away the darkness below, its light radiates outward into our world. The wafting ribbons and drapery-like banners can be seen as reminiscent of the unexpected twists and turns our lives all too often take. They also stand in subtle contrast to the West Window’s more circular design. Here they curvilinear motion in the stained glass has transformed beyond the merely circular into the even more enlightened continuation of circles above circles – “spiral time”. Again, the white and opal glasses are visible from the parade ground during the day (and from within the Chapel at night).
Because of intense west Texas sun in the afternoon, the West Window’s palette uses darker, more saturated glass in its background. The lighter, brighter colors that stream down from above (or do they flow upward from below?), symbolize our striving toward God (hence the title, Reach Out). As one of the most perfect metaphors for spiritual growth or enlightenment, light symbolically conquers darkness as brighter, warm light pushes away the darker background colors. The circularity that can be seen in the center of this window also symbolizes the contrast between the linear lives we often lead with the fuller experience we can have when we strive for spiritual perfection. More importantly, all faiths have an opportunity to find specific meaning in the flowing imagery that radiates downward. White, opal red and amber glasses add interest to the window when seen during the day from outside or at night from the inside. The lighter colors in the window’s center will be especially beautiful as clouds move across the sky.
Materials: German, French and Polish mouthblown glass, domestic rolled glasses, Austrian lead crystal bevels, lead and solder.