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Backstories About the Images - Chicago Glass

A customer asked me the other day about the imagery featured on our service appreciation plaques. While many of the product descriptions mention where the photos were made, he was interested in learning more about when, where and how the image on the plaque he was purchasing came to be.

When he discovered that I'm the landscape photographer who makes those images, he said, "I think that's a series for your blog. Kind of like 'the rest of the story,' right?" Maybe so!

I've been photographing landscapes for quite a while: the camera was a fixture in my hand well before The Christian Gift came to be. (And though landscapes - both natural and manmade - are what I shoot most often, I do capture other types of subject matter.)

Photography and The Christian Gift have become somewhat intertwined since many of the products in the store feature my images. So we'll start a little adventure with today's post, as I begin a series in which I'll share some "back stories" you might find interesting.

First up: glass!  

Obviously, this is not a landscape. Aside from the fact that I love stained glass windows, it's also wonderful subject matter for The Christian Gift. So when I discovered a Museum of Stained Glass in Chicago (I'm originally from the Chicago area), I put it on the list of places I needed to visit with my camera.

Opened in 2000 at Navy Pier, it's the first museum of its kind in the United States. (Side note: this seemed to me to be an "unexpected" spot for such a thing. The Pier is definitely heavily visited, but not exactly the venue which comes to mind when thinking about a home for lovely stained glass.)

I was bit skeptical prior to my first visit, but pleasantly surprised immediately upon entering. This place was really special. (Oh - and admission was free. And because the museum is inside - many of the attractions at Navy Pier are outdoors - it was air conditioned. On a hot and humid July day, this was another bonus!)

There were 143 windows in all, representing a wide range of styles, time periods, subject matter, and the work of many different artists including Louis Tiffany. Some dated back as far as 150 years. I liked the place so much the first time, I went again on a subsequent visit back home.

The window pictured here is quite different from many of the others on display. No colored glass! It was quite stunning. Though I photographed dozens of windows that day, there was something special about this one.

Once I got back to the studio and began processing my images, I thought this window could be a great foundation for one of The Christian Gift's service appreciation plaques. The challenge with these plaques is to come up with either a Scripture verse or some sort of reference which ties everything together.  

I wasn't having any luck finding anything from Scripture which fit, but kept kicking it around in my head. Finally, I ended up with this: "You are a window through which the Lord's light shines."

I used the image twice: it was rotated and enlarged to anchor the background. Here's the finished product:

You Are a Window - Personalized Service Appreciation Plaque

The story of the glass museum doesn't end there, however. There is a sad footnote; at the end of 2014, it closed. The space once occupied by exquisite stained glass works of art will be converted to retail and/or food vendors....because there are never enough places to buy chotchkies or soft pretzels. (She said sarcastically.)

There are no plans to display the entire collection again at a single venue; some of the pieces are being scattered about the city, installed who-knows-where, while others remain in crates. It's quite a loss.

Turns out, my assessment of Navy Pier being a somewhat unconventional location for a museum such as this may have been accurate. While visitors did come specifically to see the glass, far more - including, apparently, the city - could not have cared less.

And that, as Paul Harvey used to say, is the rest of the story.

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