Washington National Cathedral to Replace Confederate-Themed Stained Glass with New Windows by Famous Artist Kerry James Marshall | New
WASHINGTON – Washington National Cathedral commissioned acclaimed American artist Kerry James Marshall to create racial justice-themed stained glass to replace stained glass windows featuring Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson who were withdrawn in 2017.
Marshall is famous for his large-scale paintings and sculptures depicting African American people and culture. Winner of a MacArthur “genius” scholarship, he has been described as “one of the great historical painters of our time”. The commission marks his first collaboration with stained glass.
The cathedral also commissioned poet Elizabeth Alexander to write a new work that will be inscribed in stone next to the windows, located on the south wall of the cathedral’s main worship space. The commissions will be announced at an event Thursday morning.
The project and its renowned artists underscore the cathedral’s commitment to be thoughtful, inclusive and welcoming to all, said the Right Reverend Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of the Washington National Cathedral. He added that Marshall and Alexander were the top picks on the replacement committee.
“The cathedrals are never finished, and it is a wonderful thing to be able to add beauty and meaning to this place when it is already full of so much beauty and meaning,” Hollerith said. “We are delighted to have these two artists with us and grateful for their willingness to undertake this project.”
The announcement marks the final step in the cathedral’s fight with the Lee / Jackson windows, which were donated by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and installed in 1953. In 2015, then Dean Gary Hall raised the issue of removal of the 4- by 6-foot windows following the mass shooting by a white supremacist in a church in Charleston, SC
A task force was formed and, six months later, recommended that the windows remain in place for two years to serve as “a catalyst for difficult and uncomfortable conversations about the breed.”
In 2017, after deadly violence at a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Church leaders voted to remove them, saying they are “not only incompatible with our current mission of serving as a home. prayer for all, but also an obstacle to our important work on racial justice and racial reconciliation.After their removal, the space was barricaded with painted plywood.
The goal of the new windows is ambitious: the church asks Marshall to create a design that “will capture both darkness and light, both the pain of yesterday and the promise of tomorrow, as well as dignity. calm and exemplary African American. struggle for justice and equality and the indelible and progressive impact it has had on American society.
Marshall recognized the challenge.
“What you want to try to do is create work that embodies these concepts, that doesn’t just illustrate them,” he said Wednesday in a Zoom interview from the cathedral, with Alexander and Hollerith. . “My job is to synthesize all of these concepts in a way that presents itself so that people can question the relationship between these windows, the cathedral, its vision and American history. This is what I will try to do. “
Alexander, who grew up in Washington, said she welcomed the opportunity to work with the cathedral – a place she has long admired as great, holy and communal – and with her friend, Marshall.
“We’ve been friends for 30 years, so having our words and images together is very special. This (opportunity) doesn’t come up very often, ”she said. “I don’t know what that will turn out to be, but I know it wasn’t something to say no to.”
Hollerith first spoke to Marshall about the design of the new windows on Christmas Eve last year. The cathedral hopes he will complete his designs by 2023; the windows will then be fabricated and installed.
But Marshall said he did not agree to a timeline, noting that although they have been talking about the project for many months, his work began on Wednesday, when he first visited the space.
“From now on, I start to conceptualize what I would like to do with these windows,” he said. “I mean, it really forced me to be able to see space, to see what else there is.”
Marshall added that the art and iconography of the church are already “far beyond what you would normally expect to encounter” and are already linked to racial justice, including Martin’s sculptures. Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Eleanor Roosevelt.
“There is already a pretty rich narrative on the screen,” he said. “If I add something, it can’t be just another window. It must be something that really adds to the conversation.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation donated $ 1 million for the windows, an amount that includes Marshall’s symbolic honorarium of $ 18.65. Alexander is president of the Mellon Foundation. The Hearthland Foundation donated $ 150,000 for the poetry portion of the project (Alexander is not paid) and the Ford Foundation donated $ 250,000 for public programs.
“This is actually a spiritual transaction, not a business transaction. And you can’t really get paid for a spiritual transaction, ”Marshall said. “To erase the need for them to worry about how much it was going to cost them and if they can afford it, I came up with the token price of $ 18.65. It’s the equivalent of doing a project for a dollar, but $ 18.65 makes a lot more sense because, of course, 1865 is the end of the Civil War.
The cathedral will also announce Thursday that the Robert E. Lee window removed in 2017 has been on loan to the National Museum of African American History and Culture and is featured in “Make Good the Promises: Reconstruction and its Legacies,” an exhibition by a year. opening Friday, on the occasion of the museum’s fifth anniversary. When the exhibition closes, the Lee Window will join the Jackson Window to undergo conservation measures at the Cathedral. A long-term plan for them has not been announced.