March 04, 2005

Chihuly at Shaare Emeth

The temple we attend in St. Louis has these stained glass windows in the main chapel area. Contemporary style - very minimalist. I had seen some similar ones in photographs particularly in the early 90's, but I could not recognize the artist. These turn out to be earlier (late70's/early80's) and by none other than Dale Chihuly. Not at all like his more recent wild-style, anemone-like constructions being made for practically every museum on the continental US.

There is mention of the Shaare Emeth Commission on Chihily's website, though buried in the back in old installations. It turns out this installation is Chihuly's first installation for a public space!

Here are some pictures taken recently. These windows are extemely difficult to photograph. The contrast in light is extreme. When photographing, the window details get blown out very easily.
The glass is superior quality handblown flashed glass, with a good amount of gold pink flash. Each piece is acid etched. The red/pink and grey columns are symbols for the columns of smoke and fire that led the Isrealites in the desert.

This is the left side looking toward the Bima (central altar in a synagogue).

The right side looking toward the Bima.

A closer shot of the panels on the farthest right.

A even closer shot of the window on the farthest right,
where the pink is in between the red on rose pieces. These are at eye level.

and a close up showing the lines etched away on that same panel.
Not all panels have this thin line etching.

And this is a look at the metalwork. There are what appears to be brass channels holding each individual piece of glass.

[update april 29, 2005 - I just saw these windows for the first time in morning light and they come off much better. The unique quality of the handblown glass shows up much much better with the indirect light of the morning.]

Posted by Tom at March 4, 2005 04:04 PM