The windows will now be replaced with an honorable representation of American history.
Washington National Cathedral has just appointed a new artist to replace the old Confederate windows, NBC Connecticut reports. Contemporary artist Kerry James Marshall, known for depicting black life, designed new stained glass windows for the National Cathedral. The windows will now be themed with images of racial justice, replacing the old set of Confederate images deleted in 2017. The shrine has issued a statement claiming that the four windows will tell “a new and more complete” story of racial history from the country.
The ancient set of windows honored Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, conveying saint-like reverence, including an image of the Confederate flag. In 2017, amid a nationwide take-up on Confederate imagery and the illusion of white supremacy after the deadly right-wing attacks in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015 and Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, the windows were removed. and covered with plywood since then.
The cathedral, which serves as the seat of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Washington, is a national monument that hosts many of the country’s major events. The massive windows and the cathedral are covered in iconography depicting the history of America in glass and stone with images including presidents, cultural figures and state symbols. Cathedral officials believe replacing the windows helps correct a “false account of what America once was.”
“[The old windows] were an obstacle to our mission and an obstacle to worship in this place, and they had no place in a sacred space … This is a unique opportunity for the cathedral not only to create magnificent art, but also to stake a claim on what we value and who we value, âsaid Reverend Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of the Cathedral.
Marshall has had a long career as an artist, using various media to create works depicting the lives of black people. In 1997, he was a MacArthur Fellow. Poet Elizabeth Alexander will also lend her words to the play, writing a poem inscribed on stone tablets beside the windows, replacing older ones that honored the lives of Confederate soldiers. Alexander is an author, president of the Mellon Foundation, Pulitzer Prize finalist, and inaugural poet at President Barack Obama’s 2009 ceremony.
“[I am honored to be part of the cathedralâs] effort to ensure that those who worship in its sanctuary know that it is truly a space for all and that the stories relayed through its sacred walls, windows and other iconography represent the truth of our nation â, Alexander said.
Marshall recently visited the cathedral for the first time to get a feel for what he will be creating so he can align with the cathedral’s goal of showing both the pain and the triumph of “wrestling. African American for Justice and Equality “.
“It was really important for me to come here and really get a feel for what the place is, what is already there, what mission they tried to accomplish, and then what to do with it. way i might be able to adjust to the cathedral. needs to fulfill his ambition for these windows … in this space … it’s something that’s actually going to take a long time because the story itself, as most people know, is a very complicated story, âMarshall said.
This will be the first time the artist has used a stained glass window for his work, but many are convinced that he will be more than able to rise to the occasion.
“[Marshall is] one of the greatest artists of our time … one of the most eloquent and compelling voices in our country, âsaid Reverend Hollerith.
Washington Cathedral donated Robert E. Lee’s previous window to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The showcase will be part of their new exhibit, âMake Good the Promises: Reconstruction and Its Legaciesâ. The NMAAHC says the window stands for “nationwide myth-building and intimidation of African Americans through the adoption of Confederate symbols.”
Congratulations, Mr. Marshall!
Photo courtesy of Washington National Cathedral