Growing up in Southern California I began drawing trees and horses, my two favorite subjects. Later in school we were given paint and I discovered the magic of pulling a brush-load of bright color across white paper! I have never recovered from the wonder of this and, today, still feel that same excitement when I paint.
After graduating from the University of Colorado, travel and other work occupied my time until I came to rest in Three Rivers in 1963. I began teaching, and have taught at the Carnegie Center for the Arts, Glen Oaks Community College and the Commission on Aging Community Center in Cassopolis. Teaching continues to be a great source of satisfaction for me, while deepening and nourishing my own art as well.
Most importantly, I was introduced to a new form of thick stained glass called “slab glass”. This beautiful glass captured my imagination and soon I found myself among friends, making small window pieces, going to fairs and accepting commissioned works. The Nazarene Church in Three Rivers was my first big commission, in 1966. Over the years I have had many windows and glass pieces installed in churches, schools, businesses and private residences through the Midwest and in California.
Although glass has been my main work, painting is still closest to my heart. As an outdoor painter, pastel has been my chief medium. With a close painting friend I have traipsed over hill and dale capturing the beauties of our land in all its seasons. Much of my painting is done directly from life, while other paintings retain a more symbolic and expressive style, similar to work in stained glass.
Two sets of slab glass windows were recently installed in the Father Martin Room at Trinity Episcopal Church of Three Rivers. The “Creation” pair of windows were designed and constructed by Joan Hector at Hector Glass Studio in Three Rivers in 2007. The “Creation” windows were donated to the church by Mary Quinn. The “Peaceable Kingdom” pair of windows were designed by Joan Hector and constructed by Toni Smith in Benton Harbor in 2012. The “Peaceable Kingdom” windows were donated by Ernie Porath in memory of his wife Ellamae.
Creation“Creation” is the pair of windows seen on the left side of the Father Martin Room. The two panels can be seen as a single picture, and they portray the unfolding of God’s work as told in the Biblical story of Genesis. “On the first day God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light.” At the top of the left panel a shaft of light breaks forth from the deep blues of heaven. Then on the second day God parts the waters above and below and made the firmament. In a swirl of blues we can see the heavens and the sea waters.
Moving left and downward, the colors change to earth tones where, on the third day, dry land appears. Now seeds, flowers, and a fruiting tree can be seen. Below (left) in harvest colors are shafts of wheat and grapes. Again, above and on the right, are the celestial lights: the sun, moon and stars which God created on the fourth day. On the fifth day, God brought forth the creatures of the sea and birds to fly above. These images, including a whale, are pictured in the blues below the sun and moon. On the sixth day all the beasts of the earth were made and lastly the first man and woman. A bright light streams down from above and widens to include the figures of Adam and Eve at the bottom of the second panel. Here the design uses the dark epoxy matrix to form a silhouette against the golden glass colors.
Throughout the “Creation” windows we can find many colorful creatures. There are a rhinoceros, giraffe, deer, cow, horse, lamb and rabbit. Also a dog, cat, and crowing rooster appear. There are a tiny blue butterfly, and an owl, too! We need some imagination to see them all. And perhaps there are some we haven’t found yet?
The Peaceable KingdomThese two windows, seen on the right side of the room, express the theme found in the Bible “…and the lion shall lie down with the lamb…”.
We find them here in the bottom left panel where a small child is seen embracing the lion. Above them a leopard stretches on a tree limb, while a goat cavorts just below. Moving up we find an owl with eyes glowing. Then flitting upward is a monarch butterfly (a favorite of the donor, Mary Quinn.) Above in the heavens the moon and stars shine. Looking into the right panel, we see the sun whose warm light brings flowers and fruits. In the sky there is depicted a sense of new life: buds, flowers, then birds, a dove coming to alight by the hawk sitting on a branch. Below is an antlered stag and a bear coming up out of the grasses. Finally, the sturdy ox looks on while a red fox greets a white rabbit!
These creatures are arranged with a tree in the center. The trunk, not seen between the two panels, has branches extending out into the scenes on either side. The tree image is seen only as black, one of the dramatic uses of the epoxy spacing in this form of stained glass.
The harmony of both “Creation” and “The Peaceable Kingdom” is felt in the rhythm of colors and the dancing movement that link the individual parts into a whole. Just as important is the unity felt in the themes themselves. Somehow, these two themes, “Creation” and “The Peaceable Kingdom”, are meant to be together. For if God’s Creation is to find its ultimate meaning then the Peaceable Kingdom must surely come.