Feb. 3, 2005
By John Gordon*
(UMNS) — Even though she retired from the classroom, Jean Lacy is still
a teacher. Now she uses colorful slivers of glass, instead of chalk,
for her lessons.
Dallas-based United Methodist artist designed stained-glass windows for
three churches, and her latest project is a college chapel. Her windows
interweave Bible stories with events from modern history.
"I see the windows not as something just to look at, something pretty to look at — they’re educational tools," says Lacy, 72.
biggest work is the Windows of Our Heritage — 53 stained-glass windows
surrounding the sanctuary at St. Luke "Community" United Methodist
Church in Dallas. Besides showing traditional biblical scenes, some of
the windows also chronicle African-American history and the civil rights
wanted to really not go the traditional route," she says. "I think it’s
important for people to see their history, not only in terms of ancient
history, but also contemporary, and I wanted them to see themselves in
windows show such leaders as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson
Mandela, Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman. The windows also deal with
subjects such as school busing and segregated lunch counters.
One of the windows, "No Room at the Inn," alludes to Jesus’ birth and provides a commentary on housing segregation.
|A UMNS photo by John Gordon
One of the windows created by Jean Lacy is called "No Room at the Inn."
have a mother and her child — if you want to say that’s Mary and
Christ, all right," Lacy explains. "And then there’s a policeman here,
and actually it’s saying that you can’t stay in this particular
apartment house, there’s no room for you."
windows show a sit-in at a lunch counter and African Americans marching
for the right to vote. She spent six months doing research and
designing the windows.
think these windows really are for the children, in particular," Lacy
says. "Because I think if you don’t know your own history, and if you
don’t know who you are as a person, as a part of a unique culture as
well as a part of the world, that there’s no way that you can survive as
The windows are used as teaching tools for youth at St. Luke.
"They just talk to me in a way," says William Edwards, 10, a fifth-grader.
"They tell all the hard work that people in the past have been through to get us where we are today."
Jenae Brent, 11, a sixth-grader at the church, learned things from the windows that she has not seen yet in a textbook.
of the pictures told me things I really didn’t know," she says. "It
says that we’ve been through a lot. We’ve been through too much to give
also designed stained-glass windows at two other churches — New Hope
Baptist in Dallas and Trinity United Methodist in Houston.
She is doing research
for windows for a chapel at Wiley College, a United Methodist-supported
school in Marshall, Texas. She hopes to have the Wiley project
completed in about a year.
|A UMNS photo by John Gordon
"I think if I die tomorrow, I will think that I've done pretty well," says artist Jean Lacy about her stained-glass windows.
native of Washington, Lacy received a degree in art education from
Southern University in Baton Rouge and continued her art studies in New
York and Los Angeles.
of her work is smaller in scale than the windows at St. Luke. But she
says the windows are important because schools have "failed miserably"
in teaching African-American history.
think if I die tomorrow, I will think that I’ve done pretty well," she
says, "because I have presented something that, hopefully, will have
staying power, and will continue to inspire and hopefully will give hope
and faith to people who are able to see them."
*Gordon is a freelance producer and writer in Marshall, Texas.
News media contact: Fran Coode Walsh, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5458 or email@example.com.