Stained Glass Windows Tell an Important Story

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In the Middle Ages, stained glass windows were used by European churches, cathedrals and palaces to let in light, all the while telling the story of biblical figures and important religious events. This tradition has carried on to the present day, and Scottish Stained Glass has done many lovely stained glass windows for modern churches.

In the ancient Celtic civilization, although representational figures of people were not used, their stained glass art also contained great symbolism, expressing their beliefs about man, nature and the hereafter with symbols such as the famed Celtic Knot.

Storytelling, message and symbolism in stained glass has a long and illustrious history. While many people think this style of stained glass belongs to the past, in fact telling an important story via bits of colored glass woven into a cohesive design with strips of metal is still relevant and still going strong to this day.

The Kigali City Council in Rwanda, along with the UK based Aegis Trust, an organization dedicated to the prevention of genocide, decided to build a memorial center for the victims of the Rwandan genocide. They commissioned Israeli painter and stained glass artist Ardyn Halter, the son of an Auschwitz concentration camp survivor, to create two “Windows of Hope” to tell the story of this tragedy and express their hopes for a different future.

Measuring 9’8″ x 8’8″, these two beautiful windows each direct a strong shaft of light into the dark, underground exhibition. The light is the symbol of the Rwandan people’s remembrance, learning, change and hope.

Ardyn collaborated on the construction of the stained glass pieces with his father, Roman Halter.

The first piece, Descent To Genocide, describes the period leading up to the genocide, with the many dead represented by broken skulls. It depicts a blocked staircase, and is done with dark colors.

The second panel, The Way Forward, shows the same staircase leading towards an open sky, unblocked. The sky and light colors promise a better future. Both the windows are masterful in design and execution. Upon first glance, they are simply wonderful examples of why stained glass is such an important and well loved form of visual art. But when you read the story behind them and really study them to see what message they portray, you can further understand why stained glass has become such a valued part of our history and our current culture.

The Kigali Memorial Centre opened in April of 2004 — the tenth anniversary of the hundred day genocide against the Tutsis tribe in Rwanda. Over 60,000 people visited it in the first three months. Over 250,000 murdered victims are buried on this site, along with several permanent exhibitions detailing the Rwandan genocide and other genocides around our planet. The opening was attended by 9 heads of state, and the memorial and its evocative stained glass windows have been well received.

Click here for more information about the Kigali Memorial Centre.


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