Kiki Smith, artist, and Deborah Gans, architect, joined by the skilled glass craftman Tom Garcia of Gil Studio, collaborated in the creation of the rose window that completed the restoration of the Eldridge Street Synagogue. The 1887 building now home to both a museum and a small congregation, was beautifully restored by WJE architect, Tim Allenbrook except for this window, which was intended to bring the monument into the present century.
Kiki Smith and Deborah Gans began with the premise that the window should be a meditation on the already highly ornamented interior. The window is an extension of the painted firmament with five pointed stars into the literal space where it is activated by the changing light. From the height of the women’s balcony, the veil of stars resonates with the curtains that were originally drawn there.
The organization of the frame around a sacred six-pointed Star of David is taken directly from the domes of the room, as if one had been rotated on its side. The spiraling structure of ribs accentuates movement and depth of field. Similar to an oculus, the cast glass central star literally protrudes out into space and draws in white light from its sides.
The contemporary presence of the window comes from its large expanse of colored glass that eliminates traditional lead came. Instead, lines of light interrupt the color field. This was accomplished by laminating layers of traditional mouth blown stained glass to large sheets of plate glass with a silicon.
Two layers of stained flash glass, each with its patterns of cuts were installed ontop of one another to create complexity and depth. Flash glass in itself has annealed layers- in this case blue and clear, into which clear stars were acid etched and then painted with either the yellow of historical silver stain or gilding. A work of this scale using this technique had not previously been executed in the United States .
1. Lambert Hand Blown Art Glass supplied by Bendheim
2. Plate Glass substrate
3. Elastosil RT 601: Wacker Chemicals
4. silver stain
5. 23 karat gold leaf
6. solid bronze stops
7. steel tube exterior frame with Tnemec painted finish