New Hands Learn Old Art

St. Anthony’s High School freshman art student Matthew Meberg helped make a stained glass window that will be installed in the school’s chapel.

St. Anthony’s High School freshman art student Matthew Meberg helped make a stained glass window that will be installed in the school’s chapel.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

St. Anthony’s freshman Matthew Meberg had the opportunity to leave a lasting impression in the form of stained glass that will honor his family for years to come.

Meberg helped craft one of 39 stained glass windows that will adorn the school’s chapel, Our Lady of the Angels.

Art teacher Jennifer Baldwin-Schafer has worked on the windows for six years. She completed them this summer. Along the way she recruited Meberg to craft a window that honors his grandfather. It was a unique opportunity for him to learn a new medium.

“They are all cathedral glass painted, the same process that’s been used for hundreds of years,” Baldwin-Schafer said. “You paint with powdered glass then put it into a kiln.It is a very traditional art form.”

The chapel, in a courtyard on campus, is a center for religious services, special events, and student reflection. Baldwin-Schafer recalls witnessing students sitting and taking in the surroundings during free periods.

“It gives it an aura. It’s a bit magical because you end up with all this dancing light that goes through the windows,” Baldwin-Schafer said. “Throughout history stained glass has been put in to give a sense of awe and divine that inspires.”

Historically cathedrals in Europe have featured and recognized patrons, a tradition St. Anthony’s upholds. Baldwin-Schafer designed each window with inspiration from patron families and their history.

“Matthew’s family gave me a photo of his grandfather for inspiration. The saint in this particular window is Saint Olaf, and that ties to his family’s history,” Baldwin-Schafer said.

Saint Olaf’s face takes the form of Meberg’s grandfather, a fellow Norwegian. The saint holds a sword modeled after one that was found on Meberg’s family property in Norway.

Meberg is looking forward to his family seeing the finished piece when his brother graduates in the chapel this month.

Art teacher Jennifer Baldwin-Schafer and student Matthew Meberg work on the stained glass design. Each of the 39 custom windows pays tribute to the school’s patron families.

Art teacher Jennifer Baldwin-Schafer and student Matthew Meberg work on the stained glass design. Each of the 39 custom windows pays tribute to the school’s patron families.

 “My family is very excited for this, especially my grandfather,” Meberg said. “He saw the drawing, and that’s basically it. When he sees it he’ll be amazed.”

This is the first time Baldwin-Schafer has invited a student to assist in the process. She felt Meberg was up to the challenge. A standout in her honors art class, the freshman has a love for precision and realism.

“It requires you to have a steady hand and be meticulous, especially because it’s a one-shot deal or you have to erase it all by washing it off and starting all over,” Baldwin-Schafer said. “It’s not something that everybody can do.”

Baldwin-Schafer felt this was a “once-in-a-life opportunity” for Meberg who gave up his study hall every day to work on the window.

“It was such a new experience for me,” Meberg said. “I’ve never done anything like this.”

Meberg’s steady hands served him well when painting the trace line that outlines the entire design in black. He also crafted the symbolism on Saint Olaf’s chest and a medallion that incorporates his family’s symbol.

“If my kids go here they will always remember my grandfather,” Meberg said. “Then if their kids come here, it will pass on through generations and generations; remembrance of my grandfather and Saint Olaf.”