Assessment of Holy Frit
A story titled Holy Frit created in The Los Angeles-based Judson Studios, which has been manufacturing stained-glass windows since 1897 is still owned and operated by the Judson household five generations later), was the subject of the article. Stained glass isn’t as popular as when it was popular in the Middle Ages, as the article pointed out. Stained glass is often linked with churches, yet church attendance dramatically declined over the 20th century.
Alterations in church building fashion during the last fifty years also play a role. Today’s churches resemble convention centres in design. Megachurches resemble giant sports arenas. There isn’t a market for brightly coloured walls within a boring building. Is the art of stained glass, which is now more than 1,000 years old, doomed to become, like manuscripts with illumination, a lovely but quaint remnant of the Middle Ages?
In the documentary film “Holy Frit,” filmed by Justin S. Monroe, we are not given an academic background on stained glass windows by way of eminent professors. The action of the documentary unfolds among the hustle and bustle of daily life at Judson Studios, home to a community of stained glass artists. Tim Carey, the protagonist, is one of these people; he studied oil painting before enrolling at Judson. The Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City commissioned Judson to create a window made of stained glass in 2014.
While building the new church, Pastor Adam Hamilton has a grand vision: he wants a wall of windows. The opening will be almost four thousand square feet in size, making it among of the biggest stained glass windows ever created. The iconic window at Chartres Cathedral is 1,224 square metres in size, whereas the one at Notre Dame Cathedral is 1,406 sq feet (both are shown on the diagrams provided). There will be nearly as much glass as there would be on a basketball floor. Tim needs to think up a layout for it.
From concept to completion to public display, “Holy Frit” has you covered. The process takes practically two years of nonstop effort, during which time difficulties accumulate, discussions with the church about the design ensue, and a highly stressful hard deadline approaches. Director of Operations David Judson adds, “We have no idea exactly we’re going to accomplish this,” and that thought keeps him up at night. There will be 161 panes in the window.
Huge in size, each panel is 4′ x 5′. There are so many characters, details, starry sky, bursting greenery, and swirl of colour in Tim’s design that it borders on the psychedelic. The traditional method of stained glass, in which each panel is created using a single colour, will not do. Here we have the legendary stained glass artist Narcissus Quagliata. His creations push the boundaries of stained glass into the 21st century. Judson Studios has invited Narcissus to come work with them for two weeks in the hopes that he will help them get back on track with his innovative methods.
Like scattering sugar on the top of cakes before baking, one method involves dusting what they term “frit” (finely powdered coloured glass) on the finished panels. Colours blend together and into one another when the “frit” combines with the other panels to produce these impressionistic images. Quagliata teaches everyone in the class the basics of “frit.” Everyone is a little bit out of their element. (The descriptions of how various hues need to be handled and the difficulty of making something that will withstand the process of cooling are quite good and illuminating.
Monroe does a fantastic job of taking us through each step of the building process while also giving us room to consider larger topics like art, religion, business, and the individual experiences of those involved. Tim is at the centre of everything and he is tense, cynical, and under pressure. One of the glass cutters continues coolly stating that they just can’t do the job in time. A semi-truck driver is asked about the challenges of transporting the large screens from California to Kansas City.
Smoking cigars during his few intervals, Narcissus becomes an important character who guides Tim and helps him overcome his fatalistic pessimism. Tim feels encouraged to take action because of Narcissus’s confidence in him. Meeting Quentin, a 19-year-old reformed drug addict who started out sweeping floors at Judson Studios and by the conclusion of the documentary was effectively running the studio and distributing frit over the enormous panels, was an inspiring experience.