The new Canisius High School Center for the Arts opened in 2018 in the renovated former Conners mansion across West Ferry from the main campus, and now the center is getting a new addition. Canisius art teacher Cathy Pitek has arranged for students to work with local stained-glass artist Megan McElfresh on designing and constructing a stained glass window for the main staircase of the Center for the Arts.
The project itself began with a grant from BoCES which sought to expose high school students to art forms and technologies not normally available in a high school setting. Combined with Ms. Pitek's efforts to bring in an artist in residence, this grant has resulted in an excellent opportunity for students.
This process began in November when students were first introduced to the history and process of stained-glass making in a series of lectures by Ms. McElfresh. To supplement their interest and help them visualize the process, Ms. McElfresh brought in a series of stained glass tiles. This allowed students to see what they could do with stained glass, and gain some sense of the medium. The students rearranged the panels into their own art pieces and quickly became engrossed with the project.
Student involvement has been central to the design process. After learning through lectures, students were solicited to draw their own designs for the window based on motifs and architectural features from around the main school (see pictures below).
These designs were then taken by Ms. McElfresh and used to furnish the preliminary sketch of the actual window. (See below).
Through the spring, students will work on the construction of the new window inside the arts center building itself. They will help pattern the glass, lead the glass, cut it into shapes, build, and finally frame the window, all the while learning skills not normally offered to other high school students. The project is expected to be finished before the start of the next school year.
Below, we can see the current window where the new window will go. This stained-glass project will only fill the top semicircular window, leaving room for future stained glass projects below.