The Path to Paradise: Judith Schaechter’s Stained-Glass Art

Section 1 - Path to ParadiseI.
The Path to Paradise: Judith Schaechter’s Stained-Glass Art

With deep respect for history, a provocative rebelliousness, and a feminist sensibility, Judith Schaechter has aptly been called a “post-punk stained-glass sorceress.” Her stained-glass panels are mouth-watering seductions, alternative visions of beauty, and radical statements of female experience.

From her start in the 1980s, Schaechter has single-handedly stretched the medium of stained glass into an incisive art form for the twenty-first century. Her singular style and personal iconography have developed over three decades, resulting in a body of more than 225 stained-glass panels. Her influences include Northern Renaissance painters, MAD magazine, Greek mythology, and neuroscience. Schaechter’s working process is equally diverse, incorporating online image sourcing, doodling, Photoshop, and her masterful manipulation of the glass medium.

On the path to paradise, difficult, ugly moments can illuminate truth, and if we are lucky, lead the way to enlightenment. Schaechter’s dark, mysterious, and psychological narratives in bright, brilliant colors and complex patterns capture the artist’s empathy for the human condition.

  • The Birth of Eve

The Birth of Eve, 2013
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the James Renwick Alliance

Despite the title, The Birth of Eve is not a religious image, but it undoubtedly references Eve’s creation myth in the book of Genesis. Schaechter employs Eve as an archetype, or an ancient, recurring image that retains the power to evoke powerful responses from modern viewers. The biblical Eve, whose disobedience formed the basis for humankind’s original sin, is abandoned for Schaechter’s Eve, who heads—guiltless, Adam-less, and full-tilt—toward her own lusciously imagined Garden of Eden.

This woman’s birth, into a field of sumptuous, riotously colored flowers, awaits her. By exploiting the formal elements of color, light, and pattern in the area of the garden—in which the profusion of flowers repeats as a complex pattern horizontally across the panel—Schaechter achieves her goal of creating an image of maximum sensual and aesthetic beauty.

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