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Featured Window

Window of the Month
Our Lady of Grace, Dearborn Heights, Michigan

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Featured Windows, November-December 2014

Artist: David Wilson - St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Hartland, Michigan

The stained glass work of artist David Wilson can be found in several corners of the US, even though he resides in upper state New York. Originally from England where he studied art, David immigrated to the US in 1963 and worked for Rambusch Decorating Co. in New York City for about 15 years. David then moved out of the city and began working as an independent designer and fabricator; in 2002 he established WRW Studio in Charlotteville, NY (SW of Schenectady) in partnership with Walter Riesen and Trevor Wilson. Some of David’s best known projects involve installations in public libraries, airports and corporate buildings. As these are rather geometrically designed buildings, the glass work is also geometric……the obvious designs are sandblasted or etched into the glass with considerable clear glass to allow light to penetrate the buildings, with an assortment of beveled or dichroic glass for accents. However, his work includes liturgical situations, and David is pleased to work with the architects and the congregations to utilize their thought processes on the stained glass for their building. Some years ago having flown into Charlotte, NC for a family funeral, we passed a church and I knew immediately, even at 60 MPH, these were windows by David Wilson…..and more recently, very close to where I live in SE Michigan, I noticed a relatively new Catholic Church had finally installed stained glass windows. When I stopped in for a visit, I did not recognize the windows as those of David Wilson’s as they were very colorful, with large contemporary silkscreened human images but……. included more intimate traditional images as one might find in a quilt square.

ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST CATHOLIC CHURCH is located in Hartland, Michigan. The origins go back to 1838 when Michigan was barely a state, but as the congregation grew over the years, the older church out in the country became too small, and so a new facility was built across the street, where stained glass artist Margaret Cavanaugh (1928-2008) had designed earlier windows. As the congregation grew even larger, a new facility was built adjacent and completed in October 2002, with the Wilson stained glass windows being completed a year or so later.

As one can see from the web site photo, the sanctuary is quite large, but even though the windows can be “read” from a distance, to view them up close is to then become engaged in the total story of the Stations of the Cross. David Wilson states that the process involved him photographing a set of "classical" Stations of the Cross at a Catholic Church in Wisconsin, enlarging and manipulating them for the photo resist process, and then etching his images onto the glass. The etched area had glass paint rubbed in, was then fired, to achieve the somewhat elusive images. The fabrication was done at WRW Studio in Charlotteville, NY. WRW studio also installed the glass and Christine Reinhard was the Liturgical Consultant.

Text by Barbara Krueger, Michigan Stained Glass Census, November , 2014.