This stained glass window by Eleanor Van Haitsma (1921 – 1992) came in with broken pieces, delaminated paint, and an extensive amount of dirt contaminates. The first step will be to clean it thoroughly. Then the delaminated paint will be given a wax layer to stunt future loss. At that point in-painting can then restore the areas that have been lost. The broken pieces will be reattached, and this will greatly help the collage aspect of the work which gives it its modern feel. And the cleaning will go a long way in terms of improving the influence sunlight passing through it. Finally the window will receive a new custom frame. The work, itself, is 11 1/4″ x 36 1/2,” and was completed in 1959.
Eleanor Van Haitsma attended the Washington D.C. School of Art, and Indiana University where she completed her graduate work in watercolor painting, silversmithing and jewelry design. In the mid-1950s, Van Haitsma founded the art department at Hope College in Holland Michigan, where she taught for many years. Her other occupations include freelance illustrator and CBS Radio Art Department.
Along with the art, we were given an article explaining the work’s symbolism. Unfortunately, there was no mention of the original newspaper or journal the article came from, but the article is so exact that we believe the writer must have been the artist herself. We’ve included it in full:
“The stained glass design is intended to capture the eye in order that it may guid the mind and soul toward God. The lower section, by its humble place and horizontal shape, reminds the worshiper that he lifts up his soul from the midst of life on earth. The middle and upper sections together contain a cross, the sign of the sacrifice of Christ who in his life and death linked heaven and earth. Discerned in the upper section is a triangle, the ancient symbol of the Trinity.
“In the upper left corner, God the Father is represented by the sun whose moving flames show him to be the living God, the source of light, warmth, and power. God the Son stands between the Father and those who look toward him. Christ is positioned slightly in front of God to emphasize that he is a gift put forth by the Father to be the agent of reconciliation, the guide to life eternal, and the perfect demonstration of his love for man. The hand of Christ, centered at the left, with its visible wound recalls the suffering of the Savior for his people, but because he is risen, the cross stands empty as a triumphant emblem of forgiveness, joy and hope. The dove portrays the descent of God the Holy Spirit upon all flesh, and the overlapping of the symbols of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit declares that God is one.
“The tree in the center of the design represents the life of man, growing upon earth, but able to reach heavenward through Christ. The moon and stars recall the beauty of the night with its gifts of quiet, rest, and coolness. The wheat and grapes symbolize both the Holy Communions and the daily nourishment of the body, while the long blue streaks suggest the blessings of falling rain.
“Since God loves all people, the human figures across the lower power picture every race with their equality before the Creator reflected in their similarity of design. With outstretched arms all receive the gifts of God which descend from him, through Christ, through tree and earth, into the water flowing all about them.
“The remarkable printing of the doxology signifies that it is to be read with a shout of joy in the heart.”