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late afternoon views through the rippled glass

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or I may move into a modern home where the glass will be quite clear without an imperfection to be found. But until then what pleasure to pause and peer out, as I did this sunny day, and never truly know what will be seen.

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The drinking glass I picked up at a thrift store with the intention of planting sprouts in it this winter.  But for now it has been sitting on a table next to the window.  This morning I dropped two small tomatoes into it, just a placeholder until I chop them up for salad later.  Then that thing happened again.  While at the keyboard I happened to glance over my shoulder and there it was, a curious light on the tomato as the morning sun shone through the curves of the green glass.  At first my focus was purely the tomato but as I hunched over my still life I noticed what was happening at the base of the glass.  So I placed a piece of black cardboard beneath the glass, removed the tomatoes and added some water. This is what I saw.

I changed the level of the water. I placed the green glass on top of a clear glass to raise its height.  At one point I dropped in an ice cube.

It was just fun to see what changes might take place.

I set aside the green glass and replaced it with a clear square glass that has a thick bottom.  I photographed its pyramid like base and that was pretty cool.

Overall, my “experiment” took about 15-20 minutes.

Not much clean up.  Just some glasses to dry.

Just some glasses to dry.

 

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I was racing about the house, rather blindly, thinking about all of things I needed to do when the light struck the window, that rippled window, and I was compelled to stop and look … and then run to get my camera.

I’ve been collecting these images for years, and while I’ve yet to produce that book of images, I have submitted several individual prints to an upcoming juried art exhibit.  Stay tuned for the results.

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A plain black gown emphasized her type, which is fine, clean cut and deceptively simple.  Her eyes are dark and bright, her hair spun silver and the modulations of her low pitched voice are peculiarly musical. Denying herself color, she is a master of color.

Margaret Redmond, circa 1927

Margaret Redmond, circa 1927

In 1927, artist Margaret Redmond (1867-1948) was interviewed in her studio at 45 Newbury Street, Boston.  The interviewer Helen Fitzgerald described the space as, “a veritable treasure trove to the art lover.  All about her color glows and flames.  On the walls are sketches of colorful places … and the light transmuted by the stained glass of her own making fills the room with rays of gold and ruby, emerald, violet and blue so intense that it stirs in the sensitive observer an emotion akin to ecstasy.

Detail from Evangelists Window, Trinity Church, 1927

Detail from Evangelists Window, Trinity Church, 1927

Detail from the Evangelists Window, Trinity Church, 1927

Detail from the Evangelists Window, Trinity Church, 1927

For the 1927 interview and in others, Redmond describes in detail her stained glass technique and why she chose to work with glass quite differently than contemporaries John La Farge or Louis Comfort Tiffany, whose works she admired.  As author Elinor Morgan summarized, La Farge and Tiffany designed with glass, whereas Redmond sought to use the glass as her canvas.

Detail from the Evangelists Window, Trinity Church, 1927

Detail from the Evangelists Window, Trinity Church, 1927

Born in Philadelphia, Redmond would study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, travel abroad to study in Europe, before returning to the states. In that 1927 interview, Redmond shared, “I went to England and France, where I spent two years studying the old glass windows in cathedrals, churches and museums. … My studies led me to many old cities and their churches and cathedrals.

Detail from the Evangelists Window, Trinity Church, 1927

Detail from the Evangelists Window, Trinity Church, 1927

When I had completed my pilgrimage of the cathedrals, I studied with Simon and Mellard in Paris.  Returning to this country, I came to Boston and entered the studio of Connick, the famous maker of stained glass, where I made my first window.”

Charles Jay Connick

Charles Jay Connick

Redmond apprenticed with Connick between 1906 and 1910.  Prior to that she bought a farm in Nelson, New Hampshire in an area that would become a hub for artists and intellectuals with Pennsylvania roots.  Redmond would maintain a summer home and studio there. Examples of her painting and stained glass work can still be found in this community.

Though her medieval inspired style of glassmaking was not in vogue, Redmond received a wide range of commissions for work in churches as well as in private homes and businesses. She exhibited her work, including watercolors and oil paintings as well as stained glass items, at arts and craft shows across the nation.

The 1920s and 1930s is considered her most productive period and this is when, for approximately $12,800, she would produce a series of windows for Trinity Church in the City of Boston, from the Apostles to the Evangelists (pictured earlier in this post) to scenes from the life of David and Solomon.

Throughout her career, Redmond was an innovator, for instance, experimenting with different uses for stained glass in the home, including fire screens which were popular in the period.  Though respected as an artist, she like many women was too often ostracized in a male-dominated field.  But in her studios she worked with both men and women, making a special effort to train young women as assistants in the different phases of the work.  In 1931, Connick would ask Redmond to list some of her favorite creations.  She would include on the list the windows produced for Trinity Church.

Detail from Tree of Life Window, Trinity Church

Detail from Tree of Life Window, Trinity Church

I have been unable to find a book solely about Margaret Redmond, or a single listing of her creations, but her papers including contracts are housed in the Smithsonian Archives of American Art.  A research project for another day perhaps. 😉

Sources/Additional Reading

Creates Stained Glass Windows, Margaret Redmond Searches Europe for Secrets of her Chosen Art, September 11, 1927 article interview by Helen Fitzgerald, Sunday Eagle Magazine, September 11, 1927

History Written in Glass by Elizabeth B. Prudden, The Christian Science Monitor, June 30, 1931

A Woman in Stained Glass … Against the Odds by Elinor Morgan, Stained Glass Quarterly, 1990

Women Artists at Trinity: Sarah Wyman Whitman and Margaret Redmond, article by Erica E. Hirshler in Makers of Trinity ed. by James F. O’Gorman, 2004

Redmond Papers at the Archives of American Art

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Before journeying to the Brooks Estate, I stood in the living room holding my camera, staring out through that rippled glass of which I’ve written so often.  And as I swayed just a bit to change the angle of my view … well, the reflection of the white curtains in the glass and the twisting shapes of the trees, still mostly bare of any leaves, through the glass … they reminded me of many things, from running water to ballet dancers moving across a stage.  I could even see singers with hands raised high and voices ringing out in praise.

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One of my favorite exhibits at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston is the Endless Repeating Twentieth Century Modernism by Josiah McElheny.  It was installed in 2007.  Over the years, I’ve paused, stared, pondered, reflected before racing on to view whatever show or exhibit I was actually at the museum to see.  Oh, how I have admired the beauty, but only recently have I taken the time to photograph what was before me and to learn more about the artist’s intent, as well as about his creative journey.  As I learn more, mostly what I am fascinated by is how he uses glassmaking as a storytelling tool.

Via the following PBS link you can read more about McElheny and see a short video of him at work.  http://www.pbs.org/art21/artists/josiah-mcelheny

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