Featured Windows, August 2005
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
Building: Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
In February 2000 there was a very successful stained glass exhibition, "Clear Story" at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, MI. After the exhibition, twelve works were purchased and by 2004 installed in a long-term exhibition at the museum. The pieces in the exhibition were designed and fabricated by Samuel A Hodge, now from Spartanburg, SC.
Mr. Hodge discovered an interest in art in the late 1950s while stationed in the Air Force in Okinawa. After his stint in the military, he returned to upper state New York and continued his education. After college, Hodge was first a social worker, then taught emotionally disturbed children, and later was an Associate Professor of sociology and physicology at Duchess Community College in Poughkeepsie, NY. Although now officially retired, in reality Mr. Hodge has only switched careers.
As stated in a late 1990s article in a South Carolina newspaper, the Detroit "Clear Story" exhibition of folk art in the medium of stained glass, related to the clerestory in Gothic buildings, where biblical stories were told in stained glass. Coming from a line of storytellers, the stories Mr. Hodge tells in stained glass are a tribute to the accomplishments of many African Americans who were involved in music, the arts, sports and the Civil Rights Movement.
Created as autonomous panels, Hodge's work utilizes mainly opalescent glass and the copper foil technique. He has incorporated small pieces of mirror and plating to add the feeling of three dimensions. Rather than painting, one unusual technique Hodge does is affix photocopies on parchment paper of the faces of well known individuals such as Harry Belafonte, Martin Luther King and others involved in the Civil Rights Movement.
Samuel Hodge has exhibited his very moving and thought provoking stained glass in numerous galleries and museums and says of himself: "I am an historian... I didn't make the history, but I can depict it and make a record of the events through my work."
Charles H. Wright M.D. (1918-2002) was a Detroit obstetrician and author who broke through the color barrier at many local hospitals. He founded the first African American museum back in 1965 in the building that housed his medical practice, financing it completely out of his own pocket. Calling the museum "his most difficult delivery," Wright then influenced the "movers and shakers" in Detroit to join him in his vision for a larger museum. This museum which now bears his name, opened in 1997 in the cultural center of Detroit, near the Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit Historical Museum, Detroit Public Library, the Detroit Science Center and the College for Creative Studies.
The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History was registered in the Michigan Stained Glass Census by Barbara Krueger of Hartland, MI.
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Text by Barbara Krueger, Michigan Stained Glass Census, August , 2005.