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The story behind the creation of these two stunning seven-foot-high stained glass windows, is as moving as the art itself. Titled Our Rainbow Ark and The Tree of Life, this stained glass work is perhaps the last colour creation that artist Beth Jenkin will be able to design and fully see. The 29-year-old recent graduate of the Algonquin College Illustration program is rapidly losing her sight to a condition called retinitis pigmentosa.
Jenkin is a member of the church, and her light box stained glass windows now grace the high ‘ship walls’ of the sanctuary in the landmark building on Maitland Avenue in Ottawa, known as the Trinity United Ark. Designed by renowned architect James Strutt in 1962, Trinity United is among Canada’s top 500 buildings of architectural significance. The colourful modern ‘windows’ Jenkin drew enhance its architectural features and include many symbols that allude to the history and values of the progressive spiritual community of Trinity.
Towards the end of the window design process last Spring, Jenkin was no longer able to fully distinguish the shades of colours she had chosen. Another member of the project team, Alexandra Dunn, worked with Beth in her studio to ‘be her eyes’ – painting colours into the black outlines for each of the individual pieces of glass.
Over the summer and fall of 2013, a team of volunteers trained by Trinity’s in-house engineer and stained glass maker Chris Humphrey, hand cut, ground, fitted, and soldered the over 700 pieces of glass that compose the windows. The beautiful glass images were then framed in blond oak cabinets to match the pews, and fitted with energy efficient LED back lighting.
The making of the Trinity windows has been documented in photos at every stage, including a recent procession down Agincourt Road from Humphrey’s garage workshop to the church, balanced on a creatively engineered table-on-wheels and pushed – very carefully! – by a half dozen people.