The Stained Glass Project: Windows that Open Doors
About the Exhibition
This exhibition features stained glass windows designed and created by Philadelphia high school students attending The Stained Glass Project: Windows That Open Doors. Students from multiple Philadelphia high schools learn how to design and make stained glass windows, which are then donated to schools and locations around the world.
To create their stained glass windows, students study the culture of the designated recipients. The windows currently on exhibit have been made for a school in Puerto Rico, within the community of Las Mareas, which was severely damaged by Hurricane Maria.
The Stained Glass Project: Windows That Open Doors was founded fourteen years ago and is co-directed by glass/mixed-media sculptor, Paula Mandel, and digital/ceramic artist, Joan Myerson Shrager. Together with a group of volunteers, Paula and Joan guide the students in the design and creation of the stained glass windows in an after-school art program that meets at Kendrick Recreation Center in Roxborough.
It’s Not Just About The Glass:
The Stained Glass Project: Windows That Open Doors
Co-Directed by Joan Myerson Shrager and Paula Mandel
Now in its fourteenth year, The Stained Glass Project (SGP) is a volunteer-run, after-school arts program that introduces underserved Philadelphia public high school students to the technically demanding artistic discipline of making stained glass. This award-winning nationally honored program has launched dozens of students on unprecedented explorations of themselves, their artistic creativity, and their ability to brighten places around the city, country – and the world. All windows are designed and created entirely by the students, with adult guidance.
The SGP is made up of a diverse group of religions, ages and professions. Wielding sharp-edged glass and soldering irons, the SGP cultural community has been life changing for all. Each semester there is an amazing collaboration between teen artists and adult mentors, who not only help them in class but often assist with life skills and decision making. Students and adults benefit from these special relationships. All mentors are volunteers, contributing time, skills, and money for snacks and trips.
Every week, students from Philadelphia high schools attend class at the Kendrick Recreation Center in Roxborough. Students come from high schools such as Martin Luther King, Roxborough, Parkway Northwest, Central and the Commonwealth Charter Academy. They are often delighted and surprised by their finished product. In many cases it is their first taste of a non-judgmental environment, independent decision-making and self-expression. New friendships form, breaking down prejudices and barriers. Relationships often continue as students move on and remain in touch.
In fourteen years, approximately 110 students have artisanally rendered 200 windows that they donate to schools and locations around the world. Recipients include a South African school for AIDs orphans, a New Orleans school rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina, an Ojibwa Native American school in Minnesota, and closer to home, North Philadelphia’s Community Partnership School, Kendrick Recreation Center in Roxborough, and Covenant House in Germantown.
Thanks to the generosity of community and corporate donors, the SGP has traveled to New Orleans, Minnesota and through the tri-state area often to gift the recipients. Together the group has shared lodgings, dined in fine restaurants, and attended Broadway shows, Shakespeare productions, and art exhibitions. These are often first-time, life altering experiences.
Students have been introduced to prominent artists, activists, teachers and community leaders. Their work has been included in exhibitions at the Philadelphia Visitor Centers, Gravers’ Lane Gallery, Chestnut Hill, and Drexel University. The SGP has the distinct honor of being the subject of a Philadelphia Mural Arts mural in Germantown and the recipient of the American Glass Guild’s “Inspiration Award”. President Clinton, Mayor Nutter and other dignitaries have commended the program.