Saying Good Bye to the Seven Tiffany Angel Windows
Thanks to Many who Help Make the Exhibit a Success
URBANA, Ohio (January 4, 2013) - “Our Seven Angels” are packed back in their crates and ready to be transported to the next exhibit site in Montgomery, Alabama. For the past seven weeks, the Miller Center for Visual Arts presented the In Company with Angels: Seven Rediscovered Tiffany Windows exhibit in the Swedenborg Memorial Library, Cutler Wing. Visitors from as far away as Waco and Irving, Texas, California, Colorado, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Arizona, Illinois, North Carolina, New York, Arkansas, Virginia, Florida, Missouri, Alabama, Georgia, Iowa and Canada traveled to see this exquisite display of the stained glass windows designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany for the Church of the New Jerusalem in 1902.
The windows were removed in 1964 when the church was demolished to make room for the new interstate being built through Cincinnati. The windows stayed packed away and almost forgotten until “rediscovered” in 2004 while in storage at a Swedenborg retreat center near Philadelphia. The nonprofit In Company with Angels Inc. formed to restore and share these beautiful windows with others. With major sponsorship from Security National Bank, the Swedenborg Church of North America, and others, the University was able to bring this exhibit to this area during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.
More than 1,000 visitors came through the doors of the library; many made return visits and brought family and friends. When the lights in the Cutler Wing were turned off and the lights illuminating the windows shown through, the initial reaction was always a reverent “awe”. Not only were the guests thrilled by the beauty of the angels but also amazed at the detail in the layers of glass. Most do not have such an opportunity to get up close to any stained glass window, let alone a Tiffany window.
This exhibit would not have been such a success without the long hours and work provided by many. First of all, thanks to the Miller Center for Visual Arts committee for the planning needed to secure the exhibit, then install, and host. Board of Trustee and committee member, Diane McConnell also organized a stain glass window tour of seven local churches.
The Swedenborg Memorial Library director, Julie McDaniel, and staff made it possible to have the exhibit open even when the University was closed. Julie also helped to arrange for the variety of programs that complimented the exhibit.
The opening weekend of the exhibit began with a wonderful series of lectures, music, classes and conversation with the Reverends Susannah Currie and Ken Turley, the 2012 Swedenborg Scholars-in-Residence. They both traveled a great distance to bring their expertise and knowledge of these windows and the Swedenborg Church’s influence on the design of the seven angel windows.
Thanks also to professors Drs. J. Michael Rhyne and Sylvia Wirsing-Bryant for lectures related to the time period and theme of the windows. The Springfield Writers Group hosted a reading of poems, essays, and short stories about angels. With the expertise provided by Steve Bemiller, from Garth’s Auction from Delaware, Ohio, the public had an opportunity to view the windows while having items appraised.
The team of volunteer docents welcomed the visitors and answered any questions about the exhibit or the University. One hundred and seventy hours of volunteer time truly made this art exhibit possible.
Many thanks are due to Dwayne Vincent, Sodexo Facility Center Director, and his crew of amazing workers, who provided all the behind the scenes labor. First they moved furniture out of the Cutler Wing of the library. Then when the windows arrived on campus, they were there to unload the crates from the truck, unpack the delicate windows, and install them in their display cases. Yesterday, they repacked the crates and will load the truck when it returns on Tuesday, January 8. Finally, they will put the Library back in order in time for the returning students.
Finally, thanks to the University community for your support of this major art exhibit. With the leadership from Mark Chepp, director of the Miller Center for Visual Arts, and the committee members, both small and large exhibits will continue to be shown. The visual and performing arts are a vital component of a liberal arts education.
May the inspiration from the seven angels continue as we begin a new year.