Judith Schaechter’s stained glass narratives are a paradoxical assemblage of medieval depictions, mediated by contemporary tales of human failings. Hers is a demented carnival world, made claustrophobic by dizzying arrays of texture, obsessive detail and intense color.
Schaechter’s work is gut wrenchingly beautiful. “Beauty” says the artist, “is considered the most horrible crime you can commit in the modern art world. People are suspicious of anything that makes them feel as though they may lose control. Beauty forces you to confront your helplessness as well as your dark side. My work is not intended to make comfortable people unhappy, although it may make unhappy people comfortable.”
Schaechter’s meteoric professional rise could be attributed to the singularity of her work. In a field much better known for abstraction, her imagery relies on painstaking draftsmanship and the figure. Indeed, the artist has given new meaning to the stained glass genre precisely by adopting its historical function as didactic narrative. The artist balances the methods of painting on glass that harken back to the middle ages with an unmistakably contemporary style aligned with those of underground comics and political artists.
Judith Schaechter’s stained glass windows are composed of flash glass: a thin veneer of brilliant color bonded to paler layers of color underneath. Most of the color is harbored within the glass itself; Schaechter reveals it by sandblasting and engraving the flash and then often layering several pieces together. She models her images in black enamel, fired on the kiln, and sometimes adds silver stain or cold paint. The windows are then assembled with the copper foil technique, and installed in a light box.