The Chrysler Museum of Art will present Powerful and Provocative Stained Glass in Fall Exhibition
NORFOLK, VA. (July 23, 2019) – The Chrysler Museum of Art will present a contemporary take on the very old and traditional medium of stained glass this fall with Agony and Ecstasy: Contemporary Stained Glass by Judith Schaechter. On view from Sept. 20, 2019–Jan. 5, 2020, the Chrysler-curated exhibition will feature 14 illuminated artworks full of pathos and mystery. The artworks, generously loaned by the artist and Claire Oliver Gallery in New York City, span an eight-year period from 2009–2017. Admission is free.
Many of the stained glass lightboxes on view in the Chrysler Museum exhibition will feature a solitary figure arranged against a lushly patterned color field in a pose of transcendence or anguish. “It is the similar intensity of these two extreme states-of-being or emotions that we see in Judith’s art that inspired me to curate a show of her work with the theme ‘Agony and Ecstasy,’” said Carolyn Swan Needell, Ph.D., the Carolyn and Richard Barry Curator of Glass at the Chrysler Museum of Art.
The show’s title intentionally refers to the 1961 biographical novel of Michelangelo written by American author Irving Stone and the subsequent 1965 film. “I thought it fitting to make a reference to the link between artistic pursuits, ecstatic revelation, inspired genius and madness,” Needell explained. “Judith’s work certainly has elements of the psychological and otherworldly. Are the figures experiencing a conflict of the body, mind or soul? Is the image we see a reality, or is it a hellscape or a vision of paradise? Some of the imagery is creepy or grotesque, so I encourage visitors to tease out the visual and intellectual relationship between the ugly and the beautiful.”
Stained glass has its origins in medieval Europe as an architectural element used to decorate churches and deliver religious messages. Although Schaechter doesn’t specifically focus on religious content, she invokes an aura of religiosity in her artwork to enhance the seductive power of her images.
“Medieval windows sought to confer inspiration and enlightenment to those who would see them,” Schaechter said. The message of these windows is persuasive to the viewer “not because the pictures are convincing narratives,” the artist explained, “but because the colors are overwhelming and the light is sublime.”
Schaechter’s stained glass windows are primarily meant to be viewed and understood as paintings, not architectural decoration. Like a painter who mixes and overlays pigments to create depth, texture and subtle variation in the color palette, Schaechter uses layers of colored “flash” glass (clear glass overlaid with a paper-thin layer of intense color) that has been cut, sandblasted, engraved and filed. She then assembles the glass into a final composition using traditional copper foiling and soldering techniques to hold the pieces together. While some of her stained glass artworks are intended to be displayed as windows set into the wall of a building, much of Schaechter’s work is illuminated in a lightbox that is hung on the wall.
A common misconception about Schaechter’s intensely colorful and highly detailed work is that it is the result of simply painting on the glass. “I have heard people absolutely insist that it is all painted,” Schaechter noted. This misunderstanding underscores the complexity of Schaechter’s technique and the unique nature of her process. Although she sometimes incorporates black and pink enamel or silver stain to define areas of an image or to create a particular tone, little painting is actually done overall.
Schaechter (b. 1961) has lived and worked in Philadelphia since graduating in 1983 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design. Her work is represented in more than a dozen museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Hermitage Museum in Russia and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She has also been the recipient of many prestigious grants and awards, including two National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artists’ fellowships, two Pennsylvania Council on the Arts awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, a Leeway Foundation Grant, a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award and a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant Award.
The first major retrospective exhibition of Schaechter’s work will open in February 2020 at the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester in New York. Needell is excited to bring Schaechter’s work to visitors of the Chrysler before then. “I’m so pleased that we can share these wonderful examples of this important contemporary artist’s work with our Hampton Roads community just before the stained glass of Judith Schaechter enters a larger spotlight!” Needell said.
Agony and Ecstasy: Contemporary Stained Glass by Judith Schaechter is organized by the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Va.
Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019
2 p.m. │ Free
Join Carolyn Swan Needell, Ph.D., the Chrysler Museum’s Carolyn and Richard Barry Curator of Glass, for an in-depth exploration of the colorful and often disturbing stained glass artworks on view in the exhibition Agony and Ecstasy: Contemporary Stained Glass by Judith Schaechter.
Conversation with the Artist
Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019
2 p.m. │ Free
Artist Judith Schaechter’s stained glass artworks are so detailed that they are often mistaken for paintings. Learn about her technique and discover how she updates a very old medium to present contemporary ideas when she discusses her works on view in the Chrysler Museum of Art’s exhibition Agony and Ecstasy: Contemporary Stained Glass by Judith Schaechter.
Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019
2 p.m. │ Free
Explore the historical context of contemporary artist Judith Schaechter’s stained glass. Carolyn Swan Needell, Ph.D., the Chrysler Museum’s Carolyn and Richard Barry Curator of Glass, will give an overview of the background of stained glass and link the techniques used by artists like Schaechter and Louis Comfort Tiffany.
Introduction to Stained Glass (Suncatcher) at the Perry Glass Studio
Saturday, August 24, September 7, October 26, November 23*, December 21
Sunday, July 28, October 6, November 3, December 29
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. │ $100 for Museum Member $100, $125 for non-members
Beginners are invited to learn the basic techniques that made many stained glass artists famous. Cut, arrange and solder colored glass into your own hanging stained glass window. For ages 16 and up. *On Nov. 23, this class will take a break at 2 p.m. to hear a gallery talk presented by stained glass artist Judith Schaechter.
ABOUT THE CHRYSLER MUSEUM OF ART
The Chrysler Museum of Art is one of America’s most distinguished mid-sized art museums, with a nationally recognized collection of more than 30,000 objects, including one of the great glass collections in America. The core of the Chrysler’s collection comes from Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., an avid art collector who donated thousands of objects from his private collection to the Museum. The Museum has growing collections in many areas and mounts an ambitious schedule of visiting exhibitions and educational programs each season. The Chrysler has also been recognized nationally for its unique commitment to hospitality with its innovative gallery host program.
The Perry Glass Studio is a state-of-the-art facility on the Museum’s campus. The studio offers programming for aspiring and master artists alike in a variety of processes including glassblowing, fusing, flameworking, coldworking and neon. The studio has also cultivated a reputation for its cutting-edge performance evenings and was the host venue of the 2017 Glass Arts Society Conference.
In addition, the Chrysler Museum of Art administers two historic houses in downtown Norfolk: the Moses Myers House and the Willoughby-Baylor House, as well as the Jean Outland Chrysler Library on the campus of Old Dominion University. General admission is free at all venues. For more information on the Chrysler Museum of Art, visit chrysler.org.
For more information, interview assistance, or a high-resolution image suitable for publication, please contact Amber Kennedy at The Meridian Group at (757) 340-7425 or Amber@themeridiangroup.com.