Client: The Franciscan Renewal Center
Location: Phoenix, AZ, United States
Completion date: 2020
Rev. Mark Joseph Costello, OFM
This is a monumental glass commission of nine commissioned windows created for the Our Lady of the Angels Conventual Church at La Casa—The Franciscan Renewal Center in Paradise Valley, Arizona. Three art glass designs exceed 30 feet in height while another is over 30 feet in length. These windows are based on the Canticle of Creation by Saint Francis, including Brother Wind, Sister Death, and Sister Mother Earth. The major Marian window depicts the Assumption event and is deeply inspired by the writings of Bonaventure in which all of creation is called back to the creator in this vision of the cosmos returning to the divine mystery that made it. The swirling rising movement in this window presents the energy and animation that the role of Mary is in the Christ event. There is also a dynamism between her and all humanity. The Sister Mother Earth window tells a story of Mother Earth through the lens of geologic time. Cactus, ammonites, ocotillo and other elements represents the Phoenix ecotone.
The Conventual Church of Our Lady of the Angels is designed as a place for worship within the broader mission and ministry of the Franciscan Renewal Center. The liturgical art glass represents one part of the overall art program whose abiding concern is to aid the liturgy and invite the viewer into the process and grace of renewal. Each window is informed by Franciscan thought and the writing of Saint Francis in the Canticle of Creation. The major Marian window serves as a beacon to the larger Phoenix/Scottsdale window and as it seen from Camelback Mountain and Lincoln Drive.
The design process developed in dialog with the liturgical consultant, members of the church liturgical art committee, the architect, the other two commissioned artists (sculptors), and the fabricator. Concepts were developed from the art program goals and overwhelmingly approved for final designs. Fabrication of each glass panel involved hand-cut, mouth-blown flashed glass using a number of traditional and contemporary glass techniques, including silver stain, acid-etching, sandblasting, and enameling. The mouth-blown glass is laminated to a carrier safety glass panel without the use of traditional lead came.
The “Sister Mother Earth” window (six panels), is a second commission, completed in 2020. The eight other architectural art glass windows were installed in 2017. A photograph from the Lost Dutchman State Park by Bill Stammer provided inspiration for the final Sister Mother Earth windows.