The Ramaz Windows

Manhattan, NY

The wonderful artist Ofra Friedland wanted someone who could take her oil paintings, a series of the Five Books of Moses, and translate them into stained glass. In order for me to translate these into stained glass for the Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun KJ/ Ramaz building on the Upper East Side, it was clear that the only way to do it was by using flashed antique glass, acid etching and vitreous paints. 

Like the original paintings, every window is complete in itself, while also flowing together with its four companions to form a coherent whole, telling the entirety of the Torah with each window portraying the artist’s interpretation of the essence of each Book..

Stained glass is a complex and specialized medium. The first step in this international artistic collaboration was selecting dozens of pieces of specially manufactured glass in shades and transparencies on which the richness of the paintings could be reproduced in their every detail.

Each image on each panel was then constructed, step by step, with a combination of techniques. By using acid to gently remove layers of colored glass I make strong tones more transparent and enable a wide palette of shades. Images are layered onto the glass surfaces in turn, vitreous paints, enamels and sometimes silver stain were precisely applied, with the glass fired in the kiln after each application. Because The KJ/ Ramaz stained glass windows are placed, unusually, at eye level, every detail had to be exact. 

An ongoing challenge was the fluid and unpredictable nature of glass: while every image was built clearly and accurately, changes can occur in the kiln. With shades, silhouettes, and contours emerging only gradually, and final images unseen until the firing of the last layer, the experience of each process and a healthy imagination were required in equal measure.

Recreating the artist’s masterful series in glass demanded adjustments to the original oil paintings, but has compensated for them with a spectacular added dimension: the light that shines through each window constantly changes, emphasizing, muting, and modifying colors and images to reflect their surroundings, the shifting seasons, and even the emotions of the viewer. This play of light on glass serves to intensify not only the images, but also the central human concepts they convey.

Barak Uranovsky
Glass Artist

[email protected]
Bnei Reem, Israel