will see from viewing the galleries of this site and on our job
list which is available upon request, that JPS has a large number
of religious commissions contained in our resume. Churches place
stained glass windows for a variety of reasons. Because of the
way the glass interacts with the light entering the space, no
other architectural element has the ability to influence the visual
environment of a worship space as powerfully as stained glass.
The stained glass windows help create a holy space.
in the history of church building, during the Gothic period, stained
glass windows reached their zenith. Rose windows with delicate
stone traceries and towering aisle windows were characteristic
of this style of architecture. It was quickly realized that glass
could be placed into the openings to let in light but keep out
the weather. The glass was often colored, but since it was available
only in small pieces, it had to be held together with lead - thus
stained glass windows. It was discovered that the glass could
also be painted, and if it was then heated to a high enough temperature,
the paint became permanently affixed. The painting soon evolved
into illustrations. These resulting beautiful windows became excellent
places for telling stories. The lessons of the Old and New Testaments
were taught here since most of the worshipers could not read (nor
were they encouraged to, but this is a whole different story).
few people who have visited any of the cathedrals of Germany,
France or Italy or even the small parish churches of England and
Ireland, can argue the Holiness of these spaces. This feeling
is primarily due to the architecture and the art placed within.
These churches took years, decades to build, some are still incomplete.
Tremendously large sums of money were spent for their construction.
This was in a large part due to the devotion of those people and
the love that they placed on their church and their liturgy.
JPS receives a commission, we hope that the same commitment still
exists within the committees with which we are working. Surely
the architectural styles are different, but hopefully the need,
love and commitment that the congregation places on their worship
space has not changed.
stained glass windows can still tell a story, but today the need
for them to be so literal does not exist. A story which is told
in well-designed, abstracted form can be of great value. Viewers
then become active participants in the story because they have
to put effort into understanding the meaning. Today we are educated
- we read, watch television, movies, surf the internet - all of
which are wonderful ways to gain tons of information. All of us
are bombarded with information (what an advance over the last
thousand years ! or ? ). However, it's impossible to filter all
this information; it comes pouring in to us relentlessly from
every direction, almost 24 hours a day. More than ever, we need
a place where we can retreat, even if only for an hour a week.
The church is one of those places of sanctuary, a place where
one can enter to be alone with God to be with the community of
JPS, our underlying design philosophy for liturgical commissions
focuses on two parameters - we have to be true to the liturgy
and at the same time sensitive to the architecture. There is no
set formula to attain these goals. Every church is different.
Its architectural style, the geographic location of the church,
its orientation on the site and with the surrounding community
are just some of the physical considerations in designing its
windows. We also have to consider the worshipers - the demographics
of the congregation; are they old, young, or mixed?. What is their
ethnicity? How are they accustomed to praying?
Catholic churches we are especially sensitive to the guidelines
of Vatican II relating to the environment and art of a worship
space. This has implications for stained glass windows but even
more so for the designing and placing of baptismal fonts, liturgical
furnishings, appointments, statuary, Stations of the Cross and
other items of liturgical art. In Pope John Paul's recent letter,
he emphasizes the church's need for good art and artists - how
integral it is in contributing to the mystery and awe of the liturgy.
Plastic flowers and electric candles just don't do it.
is committed to helping each and every congregation create a space
that when people, upon entering it, feel that they have entered
a special and Holy Place. It is the reason we are here.