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Let There Be Light: Stained Glass and Drawings from the Collection of Oakbrook Esser Studios

August 25, 2010 - January 2, 2011


This exhibition examines the function of stained glass as a means for religious storytelling and investigates how that history impacts the understanding of work in stained glass by contemporary viewers. The exhibition also reveals rarely seen processes that go into the creation of stained glass, including life-size preliminary drawings and small scale color renderings in gouache, ink and watercolor.

The 21 stained glass pieces in the exhibition represent a wide array of styles, subject matter and time periods. The oldest work in the exhibition is a 14th century, French, border piece; the most recent work was designed by German artist Johannes Schreiter in 2007 and fabricated by Oakbrook Esser in 2009. Works designed by Tiffany Studios, Frank Lloyd Wright, Mayer of Munich, Leo Cartwright, Johann Minten, Janet McKenzie and James Walker will also be featured in the exhibition.

In addition to stained glass, the exhibition will include a selection of never-before-seen, full-scale, preparatory drawings for stained glass projects created by the Jacoby Art Glass Company of Saint Louis, Missouri. These 19th and 20th century drawings were discovered by an artist working in the former Jacoby building years after the company was acquired by Oakbrook Esser.

Small preliminary paintings in gouache by well-known stained glass designers who have collaborated with T.C. Esser and Oakbrook Esser Studios, including Ross Taylor, Sepp Frank and Anton Wendling are also represented in Let There be Light.



A 30 page, full color catalogue accompanies the exhibition. The catalogue includes images of works in the exhibition, a complete checklist and essays by Paul Phelps (owner of Oakbrook Esser Studios), Dr. Deirdre Dempsey (Associate Professor, Department of Theology, Marquette University) and James Walker (contemporary New Zealand artist). Dr. Dempsey earned her Ph.D., at The Catholic University of America in 1989, [Biblical], and did her M.A. and doctoral work in Northwest Semitic languages and literatures, with a specialty in Biblical Hebrew. Recent projects include an article on the appropriation of biblical studies by Zora Neale Hurston in "Moses, Man of the Mountain"; an article with a suggestion for a new translation of Ecclesiastes 12:4; and a series of articles on Syriac and Christian Arabic texts that deal with questions of translation and language. Her teaching fields are Ancient Languages and the Old Testament.

Related events

Wednesday, September 1
Opening/gallery walk-through of Let There be Light and Holiness and the Feminine Spirit with Paul Phelps, owner of Oakbrook Esser Studios and Janet McKenzie, artist
6 p.m.
Book signing with Janet McKenzie and reception to follow
Wednesday, September 15
Lunchtime Learning
Dr. Deirdre Dempsey, Associate Professor, Department of Theology, Marquette University
And Then There Was Light: Theological Implications of Stained Glass
Wednesday, September 29
Lunchtime Learning
Gallery walk-through of Let There be Light with Paul Phelps, owner of Oakbrook Esser Studio
Wednesday, October 13
Lunchtime Learning
Dr. Annemarie Sawkins, Associate Curator, Haggerty Museum of Art
Stained Glass on Campus: A Walking Tour Featuring the Windows of Gesu Church and the Joan of Arc Chapel
Noon (meet at the Haggerty Museum of Art)
Wednesday, October 27
Kevin Grabowski, project director, Conrad Schmitt Studios
Church of the Gesu Rose Window Restoration Project
6 p.m.
Viewing of the rose window at Gesu with a presentation by John F. O'Brien, Executive Director of Operations, Gesu Parish following the lecture
Wednesday, November 10
Judith Ramazzini, glass artist and corporate curator
Sacred Jewels, A Many Facetted Legacy: Stained and Mosaic Glass in Milwaukee Churches
6 p.m.

All programs are free, open to the public and take place at the Haggerty Museum of Art, unless otherwise noted.


Editor's note:

Resource Library wishes to extend appreciation to Lynne Shumow, Curator of Education, Haggerty Museum of Art, and curator of the exhibition, for her help concerning permissions for posting the .pdf file containing the exhibition catalogue. To view the catalogue please click here.

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