Glass Windows, 1997
In 1997 Roger Selden was appointed to design the windows of the Synagogue of Milan, Hechal David u-Mordechai. All of the 24 windows were hand made in Murano Venice.
Each single glass pane contains various figurative elements which are bound together not with the traditional use of lead but with the use of a clear crystalline glass substance (called "polentata" in Murano), which acts as a kind of unifying agent surrounding the single elements of the design in a kind of magma. It took more than a year to complete the project.
The stained glass windows at the Synagogue of Milan
(...) Roger Selden, originally from New York, is the artist responsible for one of the most unique and significant elements of the new central space of the synagogue. He has virtually transformed the 23 windows of the hall through his vivacious use of color and the richness of his chosen imagery. His works presents a grand collage of symbols (the maghen David, Shofar, menorah, and lulav) and letters from the Hebrew alphabet which repeat themselves throughout the windows in constantly changing tones and forms, at times clearly delineated, at others obscured or almost powdery.
In these windows Selden uses words and letters as images, as he does in his paintings. Into some windows he has cast hole words, as seen in three round windows of the facade where "my house is an house of prayer" can be clearly read, or in others, where the words "Shaddaj" (Omnipotent), "Emet" (truth), "Tora" (the Teachings), and "Or" (light) appear to float through the panes at random. In others, he leaves letters clearly visible, as if they had a decorative value all of their own.
Selden's artistic world is a vast collage of signs and symbols, no two of which are ever the same because their color change and they emerge in ever changing combinations, as if part of a gigantic patchwork which window after window, tells a story full of creativity and revelation.
The windows are composed of square panes of equal dimension measuring 40 centimeters per side and weighing five kilograms. The 700 window pieces were individually produced by artisans in the glass kilns of Murano, under the careful surveillance of the artist himself. Fifty tons of glass was used to complete the 23 windows, and each colored pane is joined to the next by transparent silicone. Together they reproduce the original designs which were first drawn to scale by the artist on cardboard panels.
It took more than year of work to bring the project to fruition. Once the individual panes were finished and joined together into the full window, weighing between 500 and 800 kilos, they were sealed between two bullet-proof sheets glass an then positioned onto the windows frames themselves for transport to the construction site. Each single glass pane contains various figurative elements which are bound together not with the traditional use of lead but with the use of a clear crystalline glass substance (called "polentata" in Murano), which acts as a kind of unifying agent surrounding the single elements of the design in a kind of magma.
Design with clear edges such as the Hebrew letters, were obtained through the use of stencil-like process involving the pouring of colors into specifically made forms. Designs with elements of a softer edge were applied directly to the glass surface were rapidly, so that they would not solidify before the end of the application. The varying lightness or transparency of each color was obtained by dusting glass powder directly onto the glass surface when it was still red hot and malleable.
Thirty colors were used in all, ranging from red to blue, from yellow to turquoise, all translucent. Some colors, such as gold, could not be used at all, others could only be used to a limited extent. The melting technique of this type of glass made it difficult to use. Gold, for example, became black upon contact with the air, and certain tones of red were to fragile to use and broke when the finished individual panes were placed in the oven for the 24 hour drying period.
Text by: Annie Sacerdoti Translation by: Bethanie Turitz,Fiona Tupper-Carey