Chapel Windows

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Client: Aurora University

Location: Williams Bay, WI, United States

Completion date: 2018

Artwork budget: $30,000

Project Team

Artist

Varda Avnisan

Art Glass Design Studio

Client

Aurora University

Overview

The project was to create four art glass panels to be installed in the the Ingalls Children's Building on the campus of Aurora University in Williams Bay Wisconsin.The building was completed in June 1925 and dedicated in June 1926. The university embarked on a renovation of the building in 2017 and in July 2018 it was rededicated as the Chapel. The building was built in the Arts and Crafts tradition with emphasis on simplicity of form and natural materials. Each glass panel is 16″ wide x 69″ tall x 0.5″ thick.

Goals

The goal of the project was to create an artistic and inspirational focal point in the chapel right across the entrance and behind the communion table. The windows can be seen from anywhere in the chapel and create a stark contrast to the semi-modern and neutral interior of the chapel. The setting of the chapel is on Geneva Lake and is surrounded by lush forest. I aimed to create art that would reflect this setting and the colors of blue for lake and sky, and green for the lush forest. My purpose was to create a special ambiance for meditation, contemplation and reflection - a place where those who worship can appreciate art, nature and their spiritual connection to life.

Process

After I was contacted by the university, I had several conversations with the project manager to brainstorming about the design and the goal. I made several drawings with various options to change them. They wanted a design that was more abstract than representational. After some changes to the design, one was chosen and I made a sample of 14"x16" panel of glass for approval which I received after some more changes. There was a phone meeting with the architect and the project manager to discuss installation issues.

Additional Information

I used the technique of Kiln-formed glass (fused glass). Unlike glass blowing, this technique requires creating designs and firing them in a kiln for up to 1500 degrees. I initially create “glass canvases.” These are sheets of glass with different design elements and colors that I use as components to create the larger panels. After those sheets were fired and cooled, I cut them and create the full panel , using colors that create a harmonious design. I used transparent and iridescent glass, to let light in from behind and iridescence to reflect on the inside.