Artist’s Intent – “Spirit Rising” Stained Glass Window
The beautiful stained glass window above the main doors to MVUC’s Meeting House was designed and created by MVUC member George Churchill. In 2007, the Mount Vernon Unitarian Church commissioned church member George Churchill to construct a round window, six feet in diameter, to be placed in the east facade of the then-proposed new addition to the church.
He named the piece “Spirit Rising.” George completed his masterpiece in 2008 and it rested in the Commons until space for it was ready above our entrance.
George wrote an “Artist’s Intent” statement about what the design of “Spirit Rising” meant to him. It says a lot about his way of transforming his beliefs about what matters in life into art. George’s “Artist’s Intent” is reproduced below:
Artist’s Intent for the “Spirit Rising” Window for the Mt. Vernon Unitarian Church – by George Churchill
Dark areas (black aluminum framing)
The aluminum framing represents our physical world (including outer space) and all living beings therein. Included here are our own physical bodies along with our “hard-wired” instincts such as those for survival and reproduction. We are entirely dependent on this framework for our subsistence. We can cultivate or waste it, use or abuse it, study it, or even destroy it – at our peril.
Linear background (textured clear glass)
The linear background in textured glass represents the many layers of human thought, philosophy, speculation and storytelling; that vast human construct that goes on shaping our species’ view of life. Included here are our scientific advances as well as a wealth of folklore, legends, myths and religions which have helped us feel more comfortable in a seemingly chaotic and ever-changing world.
Foliage (beveled glass)
The beveled glass foliage represents the aspiration of individuals to find a way to deal with the physical world and to sort through the layers of “received wisdom*. The individual is reaching here for a more truthful and comprehensive personal vision of our world and our place in it.
The almost-round form at the top of the window? Here the imagination of each viewer comes into play. For the artist, this area has to do with the persistent human instinct that there is more to this life than we are able to perceive. But no particular view is advocated.
Note: The artist is generally the last to see the complete meaning of his work. Others will see other meanings and ask other questions that go far beyond this sketchy outline.
Below are two photos, the first is of George working on the window and the second is of him beholding its beautiful completion:
George died in November, 2012 at the age of 90. He offered much to our congregation in his over 30 years of membership. He started the Endowment Committee, led annual fund-raising drives and taught popular RE classes on the bible and world religions. He is remembered fondly by his many good friends at MVUC.
At the conceptual stage: The staff at Waterjet Services in Lynchburg, Jeanne Gayler and Pat Monk at the Torpedo Factory Center, without whom the project would never have gotten off the ground.
Construction: Bob Schultz built the essential platform on which the window was built and the framing for its placement in the commons; Ron Kellis brought his mechanical skills to bear at a crucial moment in the frame construction; Norman Comfort and Al Macomber were always cheerfully at hand for good advice and heavy lifting.
Moving: The difficult task of moving the 200-pound window from construction site to church commons was undertaken by the able-bodied among those already on hand, along with the members of a local men’s group who volunteered for the task.
Throughout: Ron Brandt was a constant source of enthusiastic encouragement and problem-solving.
Thanks to MVUC member Pete Bloom for curating and sharing these materials.