Renowned Danish Artist Creates $1.2 Million Stained Glass Windows at Cornerstone University

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Peter Brandes, of Denmark, has set up a workshop on the Grand Rapids campus to build the four commissioned windows that will complement the breathtaking architecture of the university's first chapel.

Any stained glass window lives and dies from the light that comes in from the outside, and then going through the windows on its way to the inner rooms of the church.

Peter Brandes, with help from two assistants, have shipped over their workshop from Denmark to begin construction on the four, 23-foot stained glass windows that will be a beautiful reminder of the Gospel message on Cornerstone University's campus and to those who visit.

Brandes is recognized throughout Europe for his art. He has created major art pieces for the Roskilde Cathedral in Denmark, which is the main burial site for Danish monarchs since the 15th century.

A pole barn on the campus of CU will serve as the workshop for Brandes as he assembles the large stained glass windows that will bathe Christ Chapel in a rainbow of light.

Each window will consist of close to 1,000 pieces of glass. The glass was hand-blown specifically for this project under Brandes’ supervision using an ancient process at a factory in Lyon, France.

Brandes painted the designs on a sturdy, clear glass, which he then fired in his studio in Copenhagen. Then all supplies for the windows were packed – including the glass, scaffolding, light tables and an oven – into a 40-foot container and shipped by boat to the States.

Brandes will make two return trips to Grand Rapids, while one of his assistants will remain on campus completing the meticulous assembly with silicone.

“We are seeing this as a gift from God for the university," explained Dr. Joe Stowell, president of Cornerstone University. "This is from Him, His hand of blessing. We extend to Him the virtue of gratitude for supplying this gift.”

Each of the windows tell the story of redemption and new life. They sit at the peak of each of the four sides of the new chapel and are the only avenue for sunlight to enter the structure.

Brandes explained the importance of the windows’ placement: “No reflections from other light sources [will] disturb [the effect], and will not be mirrored on the inside of the windows. Any stained glass window lives and dies from the light that comes in from the outside, and then going through the windows on its way to the inner rooms of the church.”

The goal is to create a beautiful space where students may worship together and commune personally with God whenever they desire, Stowell said.

Completion of the chapel is expected Fall 2015.

For more information, visit http://www.cornerstone.edu/chapel.

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Kelli B. Smith
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