Posted in education
on October 1, 2015 9:26 am EDT
When Grace Flows Through Glass
A look at the stained glass artistry of Elizabeth Devereaux -- and how art and architecture can work hand-in-hand.
A recent commission by Elizabeth Devereaux graces Our Lady Queen of Angels in Newport Beach, Calif. Images courtesy of Devereaux Architectural Glass.
“I was born and bred Catholic. I went to mass each day, and I was interested in spirituality,” says stained glass artist Elizabeth Devereaux of Devereaux Architectural Glass in Chico, Calif., speaking of her upbringing. And for someone who is now an acclaimed stained glass artist with works appearing in sacred spaces around the world, the journey, bringing her spiritual life and her art glass career together, took 15 years. Initially, Devereaux’s art was residential, institutional, and commercial. Devereaux began working part-time with Jos Maes, a Belgian stained glass designer in Laguna Beach, Calif., living there as a young wife, mother, and budding glass artist. “He was a wonderful mentor,” she says of Maes.
Art and Forms of Nature
"As an architect designs in SketchUp, for example, creating simulations of the designs of the building, I also work with architects to simulate the art in its architectural setting."
—Elizabeth Devereaux, Artist & Owner, Devereaux Architectural Glass, Chico, CA
Devereaux’s artwork, like nature, is not static. Her style of expression evolves out of the watercolor design. Stained glass has traditionally been more like mosaic—with each piece a different color. “I am drawn to design with the flow of a watercolor, rather than a mosaic,” she describes. To accomplish this, she orders custom “flashed” (micro-layers of glass) mouth
Elizabeth Devereaux. Artist and Owner of Devereaux Architectural Glass.
blown in Seattle or Germany. Each sheet has different colors and opacities, which she carefully selects to allow the colors to flow through the leaded or laminated panels.
“Nature is always the primary symbol through which I express the stories of the people … of God. In the design process, church committees tell me what has the deepest meaning for them,” Devereaux says. “I synthesize their story with the architectural style, interior and exterior light, site, and region into a unique design. What’s different is that it’s not purely abstract and not purely representational. If my art can evoke associations for people without tying them down to an image, it can be like a parable—every time you read it, it can take on a different meaning for the viewer.”
Even though her stained glass art has an ethereal quality, Devereaux explains that it also plays a functional role within a house of worship. In Point Reyes Presbyterian Church in Marin County, Calif., for example, a window eight-foot in diameter blinded the congregants during services. The window needed to diffuse the light, so the pastor wasn’t a silhouette, and the people weren’t blinded. Selecting translucent and deep jewel tones of transparent glass diffused the low winter eastern light without dimming the interior space.
And yet, light is not always predictable.
“I admit to being surprised by what light does to the glass colors and textures in certain pieces,” Devereaux notes. Sometimes it’s simply a sheer manifestation of God’s glory. At St. Clare in O’Fallon, Ill., near St. Louis, for example, she reports a “happy accident of light” when a colorful reflection graced a window facing the stained glass work.