Tuesday, February 28, 2012

In my Father's House are Many Mansions

"In my Father's House are Many Mansions", a bronze sculpture by little-known Swiss artist and sculptor Werner Hilbern, cast in 1970 and installed since 1989 on the wall of the cemetery in Wil, Switzerland [from the Wil website].  I've been looking and looking at this and am so moved by it.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Stained glass and gold mosaics

Many churches of the past relied on awesome architecture and heavy applied decoration to make going to church a spatial experience unlike any other.

Most modern churches, and particularly small ones, don't have either of those.  So how to make a place feel special in a way that is contemporary rather than historicist?  I like to think about new interpretations of traditional church materials, like stained glass and mosaics.

These acrylic lights by artist Tobias Rehberger seem to take the stained glass out of the windows and put it overhead.  They're not commercially for sale (they're on gallery exhibit here) but similar work could be done by a fused glass artist; even my hometown, not known for the arts, has several good fused glass practitioners. 

If you can't afford the golden glass mosaics of St. Paul's, consider the amazing wallpapers of the Chicago firm Maya Romanoff, who through some alchemy have formulated hangable designs made from wood veneers, real metal, mother of pearl, mica and even light refracting glass beads.  They are essentially modern mosaics, to adorn an altar or back a baptistery, create a focal wall in the entry or a luxurious stripe around a room (hung out of reach of little hands!) or maybe adorn a ceiling, ala St. Paul's. 

Maya Romanoff wallpapers are are high end products, with prices at $200 a yard and up.  But I can think of few less expensive means to make such a big impact in just a few feet.  As always, remember to put your money into a focal point; if it is beautiful enough noone will look anywhere else, saving you money spent on multiple small design interventions.  These 'wallpapers' will do that.

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