By John McDevitt
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s been two years in the making, but now an accomplished stained-glass artist is finishing up a series of windows to be installed in the skylights of Eastern State Penitentiary, in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia, as part of a eight-month exhibit at the historic site.
At her South Philadelphia studio recently, stained glass artist and Guggenheim fellow Judith Schaechter was using a flexible-shaft engraver to work on a piece of glass. Her seventeen unique stained-glass windows were nearly completed, created with the exhibit space in mind: the ruins of Eastern State Penitentiary.
“Because my work is exhibited in galleries,” she told KYW Newsradio, “it’s usually shown in light boxes instead of in architecture. And Eastern State has always been my most ideal dream place, because of the creepiness, because it’s emotionally loaded, and because it’s physically beautiful in a shabby chic kind of way.”
The largest window in the installation is called the “Battle of Carnival and Lent” (detail at right). Schaechter calls it a riotous fight scene between clowns and monks. Other windows are images of prisoners and mythological characters.
Schaechter is one of eleven artists in this year’s art installation program at Eastern State Penitentiary. All of the exhibits, in various media, will be in place April 1st through November 30th.