By: Allison Kurtz – Staff Writer
Stained glass is a familiar concept to most of us. We’ve seen it in churches, chapels and buildings in passing. While most would consider it a beautiful piece of art in itself, University of Dayton faculty and students took it one step further by reclaiming stained glass as new art pieces.
This isn’t just any stained glass, either. It’s the stained glass from our very own Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. Using additional materials like wood, gold leaf, photography, steel, wire, Plexiglas and hand-felted wood; students and instructors preserved the history of this glass and continued its legacy.
“There is a memory that goes with glass, and the artist had to give it new life while maintaining the memory,” Allison Parrish, senior fine arts major and studio technician, said.
It all started about a year ago, when Assistant Professor of Art Education Darden Bradshaw, Ph.D., proposed a course designed around the reuse of the remodeled chapel stained glass. Bradshaw, along with Geno Luketic, co-instructor and co-curator; Sandra Yocum, Th.D., religious studies associate professor; and Parrish began working through the summer into the beginning of this spring semester to curate “Living Glass: Sustaining Memory Through Light.”
While brainstorming ways to design a course around the reuse of the sacred glass, the idea of connecting the glass to its Marianist identity came to light. Reaching out to Yocum for assistance, instructors and students collaborated to create it.
“Every pane was handled by myself or Geno or Dr. Bradshaw,” Parrish said. “I got to see the windows and all the different colors from start to finish.”
The windows, starting as full panes, are now pieces of all colors and shapes incorporated with different materials to create completely new and unique pieces.
The course was offered to students of all majors the fall of 2015. While the class was full of art majors, Parrish said, “It was a unique experience because there were people from all different fields and ages,” something that doesn’t typically happen in the department’s art projects.
Each artist read “Characteristics of Marianist Universities,” described in its preface as “a short text explaining the elements of Marianist educational philosophy and spirit.” This was to give each artist a background to connect the art to Marianist values.
At the gallery opening Thursday, March 3, Bradshaw explained the course was primarily about “Marianist identity and what it means to be on this campus.” When the students had the opportunity to share something about their art, senior Monica Rourke said, “There was a rich history I was honored to use.”
The rich history includes Herman Verbinnen, the original creator of the stained glass windows, as well as their place at UD. At the end of the gallery introduction, Bradshaw said the main purpose “was to create visual form to something we all feel but can’t always articulate.” This is shown in each artist’s interpretation of Marianist values and use of the stained glass.
“This art show, I think, is one of the most connected to the campus as a whole,” Parrish said. “It covers a lot of branches connecting Marianist with art.”
The show will be displayed in Fitz Hall Gallery 249 until March 17. It will then be displayed in Roesch Library from April 3 to July 20, with another opening reception on Thursday April 7, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
“Living Glass: Sustaining Memory Through Light” will be on display in Fitz Hall until March 17. The above photographs were taken during the show’s opening on Thursday, March 3. (Bottom right) Assistant Professor of Art Education Darden Bradshaw, Ph.D. Chris Santucci/Multimedia Editor