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St. Luke Rose Window

Wardlaw Article
Malcolm X

In “Civil Rights,” the movement is dramatically introduced in an interpretation of the famous photograph of the Selma, Ala., march. Martin Luther King Jr. is depicted, delivering his “I Have a Dream” speech, and issues, such as busing, fair housing, and the homeless, are also shown. A sit-in demonstration becomes for Lacy the African-American Last Supper. “All of the windows have a biblical context,” she says. “They have been contemporized and grounded in our experiences today.”

Glassmaker Robert Foster, who worked with Lacy, regards her windows as the cutting edge of stained-glass-window design in American churches. “Jean’s designs are really outstanding,” he says. “Her comprehension and knowledge and ability were really exceptional, particularly since this was her first effort at stained glass.”

Aside from the subject matter, several aspects of the window designs are atypical. Because the windows on the lower level are extremely narrow-between 16 and 20 inches wide-Lacy had to create a series of drawings that would “fool the eye.” Although individually designed, the panels should be read as a total horizontal image.

The dematerialization of form so prevalent in Lacy’s collages is difficult to achieve in stained-glass windows, which consist of defined areas of color. Only when light streams through the windows do the colored panels blend into a unified image.

Like the Renaissance artists Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, who were commissioned by the church, St. Luke and Jean Lacy have created for generations to come an important monument that commemorates the spiritual journey of a people whose struggle is borne out in progress and inspired ultimately by a deep, abiding and unshakable faith.

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American Visions
December/January 1994