Wisdom House: Not all Thermal Windows are the Same

Not all thermal windows are the same. Though all are intended to let light in to warm and brighten interior space while you're looking out into the world, there is a special set of such windows that will turn your sights inward to find the light inside yourself.

These are the chapel windows of Wisdom House Retreat and Conference Center, works of art designed and created by artist Hugh O'Donnell, the completed installation of which Wisdom House celebrated with friends on September 22.

O'Donnell told the gathering that his goal in creating this set of windows, entitled "In Sophia's Garden," was not to "give people something to think about." He was not interested in telling stories with windows--prescribing, defining, and therefore limiting a particular story--but in creating sensation, invoking feeling, that all who come to the chapel find a way to the wisdom and light within themselves.

At the blessing and dedication of the windows, O'Donnell spoke for 20 minutes about the role of science and technology in his creative process. Indeed, new computer technology as well as thermal glass technology made possible an artistic endeavor that would have been impossible five years ago. The windows are luminous.

The vines and leaves and pools of water that wrap around the chapel create a feeling of being deep inside the very first garden. There is pure light, pure sensation. A close look at any one of the windows reveals the brush strokes of O'Donnell's paintings, which suggest nature but don't actually recreate it. The film between the layers of glass is an image of the original artwork, so you're at once in touch with the painting and not. The windows are not prescriptive but suggestive; the effect is to feel part of fleeting time, a time that nurtures growth in, through, and toward the light.

"We seek the large," he said, "but we find it by looking through the small."

O'Donnell's words, along with the introductory remarks of Sr. Rosemarie Greco and Sr. Jo-Ann Iannotti are thoughtful, thought-provoking, and rich. If you have the time to have a look at these videos, you'll fast discover that science and religion are not enemies but dance partners moving gracefully and ever more closely together through time and space.


  1. Anonymous6:29 AM

    Fascinating-and definitely worth watching the videos. Thanks...


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