Flowers Of The Church: Minnesota’s Stained Glass Heritage


Flowers Of The Church: Minnesota's Stained Glass Heritage

Windows of Stained Glass have been an inspiration to all who view them. These traditional and contemporary designs in glass can tell a biblical story, recount the story of a congregation or bring a brilliant hue of color to set the tone for a place of worship. These lights of color illuminate and inspire the message and glory of faith.

AIRED: March 22, 2017 | 0:26:46

(man)The colors are very

vibrant and life-giving to me.

(woman)The beauty of them is wonderful;it gives that grandeur.

(man)The stained glass tells stories,it has religious meaning.

(2nd man)It brings the past into thepresent and into the future.

(3rd man)That's what makesstained glass unique.

You see a touch of humanityin them.

(woman)It speaks to the human heart,the human spirit.

(man)It does bring it all together.

[piano plays softly]

(woman) "Flowers of the Church:

Minnesota's Stained GlassHeritage"

is funded in part by

the Minnesota Arts and CulturalHeritage Fund

with money from the voteof the people of Minnesota

on November 4th, 2008,

and by the membersof Prairie Public.

[piano plays softly; Erik Satie,"Gymnopédie No. 1"]

(John Salisbury) There's nota lot of written history

on how stained glass got here.

I think as the area grew,the population grew,

there was a need for it,

both ecclesiastically andresidentially and commercially;

it was in vogue.

The original purpose ofthe stained glass windows

when they were developed was,

nobody had books,nobody could read,

so the story was told inthese pictures in the window,

whether it be symbolor actual figures.

[guitar & drums playin bright rhythm]

(Father Blaine Wasnie)It's not static;

it pushes us into being, livingbeings

of nurturing and creating andmoving toward that goal

of being one in the risen Lord.

I wanted it to be a window

of vibrancy in a movementincorporating everything

about who we are as a communityof faith, to be able

to look at the window and bereminded of who we really are.

The vibrancy of the coloredglass

and the clarity of it all isextraordinary.

The browns and the grays are

kind of the local soilof Stearns County,

and the water and the oil isthe gold and stuff.

It brings up new lifein creating an ambience

of joy and a mission,

a sense of direction, and I'mcalling it "Sacrament Way,"

where disciples of Jesusfollowed the way, his way.

(John Salisbury) Catalogs wereput out

by most of the major studios,and they might have 2 catalogs,

they might have more of aresidential, commercial catalog,

as well as an ecclesiasticalcatalog.

Some communitywas building a small church,

they wantedsome decorative glass,

they could look at the catalog

and see what it looked like

and what was availableand what it cost.

At that point,the windows could be

either fabricatedfrom dimensions

or perhaps a salesman would get

on the train and go out there

and see them if it wasa significant enough job.

They also had colored samplesof the glass

and symbols printed in the book.

The real early stuff was what wecall a cathedral tint.

It was a colored glass, but itwas somewhat transparent.

Around the 1880s,Tiffany and La Farge

developedthe early opalescent glass.

They would take multiple colors,

mix them together,then put white in it

and mix it up so that you geta very high surface color.

That became very, very popular,especially in the Midwest.

A lot of the glass reallyhasn't changed that much.

You can match100-year-old glass exactly;

they still makethe same product.

Lead on the other hand, I know

when I first gotin the business,

we used chemical gradevirgin lead.

It was a nice, cleanand easy lead to work with,

however, it had a tendencyto oxidize.

New leads havetin, antimony, copper,

other exotic traces of metalin them that makes them

much more stable-- that willkeep the lead from oxidizing.

(Gary TerHaar) My father wasan architectural designer

at Cold Spring Granite, dida lot of liturgical designing

with granite at that point.

In 1959, when they were building

the church windows at St. John'sAbbey Church,

he spent a year-and-a-halfout there

and the monks and other artistson campus

were building the windowsin an old barn.

They importedall the glass from Europe

and actually fabricatedthe windows.

He worked therefor about 10 more years,

doing church fabricationsall over the country.

He just really found himself

in love with the glassworkand went on his own,

with the blessingsof Cold Spring Granite.

And that's how he gotinto the business.

He passed away rather suddenlyback in 1979.

I had worked with himfor a couple of years,

my brothers had worked with him,

so we knew how to dothe craftwork

and learned how to do paintingand some of the firing

and some of the more intricatechurch work.

(Father Steven Beauclair)When the church was being built,

Marcel Breuer was the architect,

they tried to figure out

who would dothe stained glass windows.

One of the professors in the ArtDepartment

that came up with the particulardesign that was there,

after they came upwith the design,

they put the windows together.

The window itself, the theme,in the very center

there'sa prominent window in white

that represents the eye of God.

Surrounding that central area,there's a prominent red,

is the lifting up our heartsin praise to God.

And then there's lines that runthrough the window

and those lines represent

the different seasonsof the church year--

of Advent, Christmas,Lent, Pentecost.

(Gary TerHaar) When my dadpassed away,

I was going to be a schoolteacher,

my brother Tom was workingat the St. Cloud Hospital.

It was a project coming overfrom Italy,

and it was halfway overon the boat when he passed away.

So that was our first intention,and we left the door open,

and as a resultof working in it,

over the 6-month or 8-monthperiod that we were

finishing things up, it reallystarted feeling like

this is somethingthat we could really do.

We loved working with our hands;

you have to lovethat for one thing,

that mind-hand relationship,

and we loved workingin churches,

we loved the clientelewe worked with.

We feel that our work in stainedglass is rather meaningful

and it's appreciated bya lot of people for generations.

[piano plays"Crown Him With Many Crowns"]

I'm the 6th generationin this town,

my great, great, greatgrandfather

was the original settlerand he gave the land

with which the church actuallysets on.

This church, being the oldestconsecrated church in the state

should stay more historical.

It kind of tiesthe new in with the old

by keeping the stained glass.

To me it's the purpleand the blue at the bottom

that I remember as a kidalways focusing on,

down in the cloverleafs that arein the bottom of the window,

which iskind of a beautiful color.

You wonder howhe can get that out of glass.

The influence of theBenedictines

is very prevalent in this space,

and we're very conscious of theart and keeping things simple.

The sun shining throughthe stained glass windows,

especially some of the brightred glass, it's so beautiful,

it's so magical, it's like God'spresence,

His beauty shines through.

It creates a very peaceful,

very serene environment.

We have three children;

our youngest was baptized here,

our childrenreceived their sacraments here,

and all three of them weremarried here.

It feels like home, and it'sjust part of our life.

[xylophone playsin bright rhythm] We'll

(Gary TerHaar)We never do church work

unless we've been in the church.

We'll know what's the southside, west side, east side,

north side of the church.

You may want to use

a certain hue, you puta little different value on it

depending on the sun coming in,that type of thing.

You have that ability to justcontrol your environment.

Sometimes we get into churcheswhere maybe

there's 20 people on acommittee, and sometimes

there's 2 or 3 or 4 peopleon a committee.

We've had where they've beendiametrically opposed.

On one hand they'll be lookingat traditional windows,

and in the same committeethey're looking at

more of the modernkind of church work.

Oftentimes what we'll dois present them

with 2 or 3 different designs,maybe

a little more of a traditional,maybe a little more in between,

and then onea little bit more modern.

You try to help guide them,and you talk

about your experiencesand their idea

what their heritage might wantfor their church.

They're speaking not onlyfor themselves, but for

their ancestors and for peoplewho are coming in the future.

(Ronald Fickhoff) The peoplethat came here

to the U.S. in those early years

came for their religious freedomfrom Germany.

That's very important,and it's been important

through our family all the waythrough.

The windows at the previouschurch,

which were put up in the '40s,they were built

basically for that styleof church.

That's how the decision was madethen that we should go ahead

and put newstained glass windows

in the front of the church here.

I look at them every timeI come to worship;

it definitely gives mea good feeling.

The windowbehind the altar and the altar

were really part of thecongregational members heritage

and it made it easierfor some of the older members

to make the moveto the new building.

The Bible is the Word of God;

and we wanted thatto be a significant part of it.

The sacraments of communion andholy baptism, that's all

tied together, and that's thesignificance of the open Bible,

that we hear the word,for people to continue

to grow in their faiththrough the Word.

[pipe organ plays]

(John Salisbury)Stained glass, as a rule,

tries to harmonize with thearchitecture of the building,

contemporary buildings that arebeing built, contemporary glass.

However, in the last 10 years,

a little bit more of a swingback to traditional look.

A lot of people like to be ableto identify

what's going on in the window.

Some of the abstract windows arecolorful or bright,

they can even be symbolic,but they're a little harder

to relate tofor a lot of people.

Some of the buildings are beingbuilt a little bit in kind of

a transitional look, nottraditional, but not abstract.

There's a lot of reuse of oldwindows in the new structures.

[acoustic guitar plays softly]

(Joe Roehrl) The previouschurches

that we've had built over theyears,

the original structure that wasbuilt in the late 1900s

had stained glass windows,and we incorporated them

into the new structurethat was built in 1980.

We also put some new stainedglass windows in that structure,

but when we builtthis structure in 2000,

we did not haveany stained glass windows

and it was somethingthat we always wanted to

but we hadto stay within budget.

We're very fortunatethat we have

good, generous peoplein our parish.

People stepped forward,and the stained glass windows

were actually paid forbefore they were put in.

One of the previous altarsshowed The Last Supper

and that was one thingthat we wanted to incorporate

into the newstained glass windows.

It's really all about Jesusinstituting the first Mass,

the breaking of the bread,sharing it with his disciples,

the sharing of the cup, and wedo that at every Mass here,

and that's what it's all about.

The symbols really stand out.

Certain times of the daythey just seem to glow.

And then there's other times,towards the evenings,

where you just look aroundthe whole entire church

and see how all the stainedglass windows come together.

People really gravitate towardsthe stained glass

because it has this lastingquality about it.

Stained glass isthe flower in the church.

It plays with light,it plays with color,

it plays with design,it plays with meaning,

it plays with the story of

our heritage, of our religion,

so it speaks to ancestors,

it speaks to our heritage,

it speaks to our future,kids, generations.

It's alive; it's almost organic.

(Father Steven Beauclair)The person that had worked

with TerHaar, his artist,

she was a young girl in theparish at that time,

and now she works with TerHaaras the artist

and puts that all together,

so I knew her very well,and it was a lot of ideas

that she came up with thatreally are

outstanding within that wholeset of windows.

(Christi Becker) The reason whyI was so intrigued

and really grabbed onto theglass painting

is because we went to Mass 3times a week.

I stared at those stained glasswindows, thinking about

who the artist was who designedthose windows,

why they chose those colors, whythey did this,

why they didn't do that.

The sunlight would come throughthe windows so beautifully.

I've always wanted to justspread that light that I saw.

I went to the MinneapolisCollege of Art and Design,

got my bachelor of fine artsin industrial design.

I started talking with Gary,I brought in my portfolio,

and he liked what he saw,and said he needed a painter

and I had never paintedon glass before,

had no idea what it entailed.

(Sister Susan Rudolph) The colorof the stained glass

and the meaning of the symbols,

the attraction of it, cancertainly pull one

into a prayerful mode,into a contemplative mode.

In the morning, the bright sunis really piercing,

so residents or visitorswill ask to sit

on the right side of the chapelwhen they come for Mass.

One of our residents went toour fund development director

and said, I feel at homein the chapel

and this is a placeof real peace for me.

It prompted her to makea contribution

to pay for stained glasswindows.

The Benedictine Cross for ussymbolizes our heritage,

which is St. Benedict Center'sheritage.

And one of the thing about St.Benedict's rule and Foundation

is that allshall be treated as Christ,

particular care for the sick.

And so the cross in itselfexemplifies that image for us.

The colorshave real significance.

There's a blue line thatties all those panels together,

the principle of lifefor all of us,

and it's the waters of baptism.

The little circles that you seein there

are the oilwhich is used for the healing.

I do sometimes incorporatethe architectural aspects

of the church with the window.

If they have existingstained glass windows,

do they want those to coordinatewith the new windows?

Do you want them traditional,do you want them contemporary?

Do you want movement,do you want it to be inspiring,

do you want images,

do you want symbols?

I write down what wordsthey come up with.

We want it to be peaceful,we want it to be meditative,

we want it to glowor be inspiring,

spiritual, nature.

They might want somethingmore didactic with a story

or Jesus and the Apostles.

Once the illustration is okayed,

I get the dimensionsof the window,

put that in my computer,

enlarge my illustrationto that size,

and print out 8-1/2 by 11 sheets

and then I tape all thosepieces of paper together.

I have a drawing layingon my table at home.

I put my piece of glasson my drawing

and do all my trace lines.

Those are done with acalligraphy pen, and I use oil,

and the paint isactually a powder,

and you mix it witha palette knife.

I get all my thin lines done,and then I fire it.

After it's fired,I turn my piece over

and I do just a flat maton the back

with water base in the paint

and then it dries,and it turns back to powder.

So then what you do is, you liftthe powder off the glass,

I usually do stippling, so Ihave some really soft brushes

that I will stippleonto to the face,

and it pulls the powder off.

I would fire itafter that first mat;

my second mat on the back side,

I would do all shadowed areas,and then I fire it again.

And then I flip it overto my front side

and start working on that

and then I fire it, and thenI do all my shadowing.

I do 2 layers on the back,4 layers on the front.

And I just love addingthat eye color

because in working with the facefor so long,

you just can't wait to putthat color in the eyes

because it really iswhat makes them look alive.

(Gary TerHaar) In this business,you have to have

a sense of what workswith other kinds of colors.

You can ruin a good designby putting in bad color.

Each glass, and especially whenyou're talking

about some of opalescentglasses,

has a certain color, tone to it.

We'll have certain kind of glass

which has maybea certain whiter part

or a little pinker partor green or blue.

We will pick out certain partsof a sheet of glass

that we think is going to flow

into this particular partof the scene.

We'll go to that middleand cut that middle out

because that's the right glass.

That is constantly on our mindwhen we're working--

what element of glass, whatthe quality of that glass,

what the color of that glass,

what the line of that glassis going to be,

if that fitswithin that particular part

of that window design.

[guitar & flute play softly]

(Reverend Julie Anderson)It's almost a creative process

the congregation has been ableto see.

They started to do somefundraising, and a lot of,

over those 10 years, people'smemorials and just special gifts

have goneto the stained glass windows,

and when enough money comes in,they order the window

and it gets installed, and ithas that contemporary feel to it

of being very open to nature.

You have the windows that lookout on the world,

but then above, you have

this beautiful stained glass,which like,

when we look up to heaven, wekind of see more of that dream

we have for a beautiful life.

It's all centered on the cross.

You have a symbol of baptism,

and you have a symbolof communion,

usuallyon either side of the cross,

reminding usof those sacraments.

And with these windowsI like the fish,

how those multicolored fishare in that blue water

and reminding us of that symbolof we're fishers of men

and fishers of humans,and we're that bright,

beautiful spot in that big seacalled the world.

(John Salisbury) If you lookback in early windows

and the contemporary windows,

a lot of the story of the lifeof Christ

or the Old Testament or saints,

is pretty much the same;they're treated differently.

Contemporary windows,sometimes you have to

look a little harderto find the symbol.

It's not as graphic,it's not as portrayed

as in its traditional form,but it's still there.

Sometimes color playsan important part.

We want to create a space here

that as soon as you come intothe parking lot,

you realize that you're cominginto something different.

I was really interestedin making sure

that we have a lot of glass.

There was this ideathat we're on a journey.

The blue would represent water,the browns and the greens

would represent the land,and there'd be some sky.

And then there were littledots--those are representative

of people at different placesin the journey.

The faith journey would bethat we don't know

where the sacred everbegins or ends in our lives

and I cannot box it up, but itwas continuing to invite you in.

And even when you gotinto the space,

you could see beyond the space.

God didn't create the worldblack and white.

God created it with colorso that we could

enjoy the beauty and wonderof it,

and none of those colorscontradict each other.

It's fluid, and depending on

where I'm going and howdifficult the journey is

or how easy the journey isfrom time to time,

it reflects my faith journey.

A lot of the stained glasswindows

that we fabricated for churches

were derived from memorialmoney.

Somebody passes away,

they wanted to give a giftto the church

to remember the loved one,they wanted something

they could look atand identify with.

Sometimes they would doa fundraiser,

sometimes it would bein the budget.

(Deena Monk-Kobow)We worked with TerHaar.

The designer, Christi,she was wonderful.

We took probably 6 differentconfigurations

that she had put togetherand we pulled things

from every one of themthat we liked.

The trumpets that you seein the window are actually

something that a gentlemanfrom our church designed.

We've used that as our symbolfrom the very beginning.

We wanted it to be centeredaround our mission statement,

which is to grow in faith,love, and service,

in response to the gospelof Jesus Christ,

and to extend God's welcometo all.

The best thing about it wasthat people came out

almost of the woodworkand donated money.

We have a family that wantedto buy the heart and wanted

to buy the rejoice andthe mustard seed and the hands.

[with much emotion] And that allmeant something to them.

The fish isvery sentimental to us.

My dad was a big walleyefisherman, and so we worked hard

to get that to look like acertain,

almost like a walleye.

(John Salisbury)It's become moreof a craft than a fine art.

There's a tremendous awarenessof the glass.

It'll bring inspiration;I mean, when we had 9-11,

everybody's going back to churchand I kept thinking,

gee, I hope our windows bringthem a little peace or solace.

Somebody once referredto stained glass

as "painting with light."

And that's really whatyou are doing.

(Gary TerHaar) As we wereyoung children,

we'd go in, and a lot of times,

we may not listen to the homily,

but we're looking at thestained glass

and wondering how that was made

or what the meaning of it is

and just looking atthe different colors.

So even as young children,

they're enjoying it,appreciating it.

The future holds wellfor stained glass.

[orchestra plays softly]

(woman) "Flowers of the Church:

Minnesota's Stained GlassHeritage"

is funded in part by

the Minnesota Arts and CulturalHeritage Fund

with money from the voteof the people of Minnesota

on November 4th, 2008,

and by the membersof Prairie Public.

To order a copy of this program,call

or visit our online store at...


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