I’ve been thinking a lot about stained glass lately, both as the influence it has been on my work and as a possible future foray. Growing up around Corning, glass was always in high visibility and trying to capture some of the luminosity of glass was always a goal in my work. My fondness for the use of defining lines in my paintings most likely stems from a deep affection for stained glass.
When the new (and spectacular!) Contemporary Art + Design Wing opened recently at the Corning Museum of Glass, among all of the epic glass works it was a more modest sized piece of stained glass tucked away to one side that most caught my eye. It was from Philadelphia-based stained glass artist Judith Schaechter and it was titled Cold Genius. The photo of it at the top does not do it justice, doesn’t capture the inner glow created by the integrated lightbox. Believe me when I say it is a striking piece of art.
I knew nothing of the work of Judith Schaechter beforehand but this image just triggered something. Looking her up and finding her work on her website as well a number of others, I discovered that she was one of the pioneers in modern stained glass, having been at the forefront of the medium for over 30 years. I was overwhelmed by her productivity, her creativity and innovation as well as the consistency of her vision. As I’ve shown here before, one of my ways of quickly taking in an artist’s personal style is in viewing a page of their work on Google. As you can see at the bottom, Schaechter’s work has a completeness of voice that any artist would envy.
While it is often macabre in nature, it is always beautiful having a transcendent quality that glows from within. It feels both contemporary and timeless, which is the goal of any artist.
It was hard to not be in awe and easy to be inspired, to see things in her work that fed my own desire for expression, that set off pangs of wanting to make an attempt in that medium. It’s not a feeling I often experience with many contemporary artists so you can understand my excitement at finding her work.
The few images and my short paragraphs here may not fully do her work justice. Check out her work for yourself on her website. It includes a very interesting project where she installed windows at the infamous Eastern State Penitentiary in Philly. There’s also a great recent interview online that is very enlightening– I think many artists will see many things that jibe with their own experiences.