Client: Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church
Location: Denver, CO, United States
Completion date: 2012
Artwork budget: $3,500
Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church
Denver’s historic Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church was founded in 1903. Over the years, growth dictated numerous building additions including the Commons area which was once exterior space between the Memorial building and the Sanctuary. The Commons serves to connect the old and the new, and is the entrance many worshipers use rather than the front doors to the church. With stone walls to the south (the old exterior of the nave), plastered walls to the north, and muted earth tone paint and carpet, the project called for color, while creating some continuity with a variety of existing stained glass.
The goal was to use contemporary mosaic art to create a colorful installation that would enhance the space and incorporate the palette of existing stained glass windows. The Commons area is filled with natural light from its vaulted ceiling and skylights – ideal for mosaic. These high skylights include modern abstract stained glass windows in reds, yellows and blues. These colors are also dominant in the more traditional stained glass windows in the nave, so it was important to work within this color palette – tying present (and future) into the past. With a limited budget, it was also essential to maximize materials and technique to create artwork that would fill the space.
The artist, Kathy Thaden, met with three of Montview’s leaders to discuss logistics of timeframe and budget, and the importance of theological themes as well. The collaboration and conversation between Thaden and the representatives from the church was key in knowing what design direction to pursue. With the details of placement and size determined, Thaden then created a number of renderings for presentation. Ideas of creation, spirit, growth, environmental concerns and various Christian symbols were explored, with emphasis on the Trinity, which evolved into a mosaic triptych. The glass and tile materials used also included a number of flawed and recycled scraps – pieces which upon closer inspection may have been discarded by other artists, or deemed unusable.
Thaden describes a “theology of mosaics, working with that which is broken then through transformation and grace, is made whole and new.”
Within these many bits and pieces we find beauty and transformation; what was once broken has been made whole. While chaos and noise swirl around us, there is no doubt that we are each connected to one another. At the center, we can find God’s peace - the golden glimmers of hope of what is now and also yet to come. Thaden links her art to her faith – expressing awe at creation and the Creator – whether abstract landscape, sculpture or liturgical commissions. Finding beauty in the possibilities, she seeks to reinvent these objects into sacred art formed in prayer.