Stained-glass artist shines new light on museum

September 13, 1999

Stained glassBy KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

Don't look for any deep message in the stained-glass work artist Rob Martin created for the dome of the Washington County Fine Arts Museum rotunda.

"It's strictly decorative. It's not representative of anything," he said.

He said his goal was to brighten the museum's foyer by allowing more light to flow through the skylight.

Using nine pieces of glass, Martin, 52, first created a black grid and then filled in the spaces with multi-colored opalescent and solid-colored glass.

"I wanted to lengthen the subdued lobby and brighten it," he said.

An unveiling and reception was held Sunday and attended by Bill Young, president of the museum board of directors, and members of the Hagerstown Branch of the American Association of University Women, which commissioned the work.


Young thanked the group for its generosity and for helping promote the arts in Washington County.

He called the glasswork stunning.

"It enhances the lighting in the main lobby and delights the eye with its imaginative interplay of colors," he said.

A stained-glass artist for the past 20 years, Martin of Williamsport was selected by the museum board of directors from other local artists to create the piece.

"It harmonizes well in terms of its placement in the lobby. The museum has quite a number of pieces of glasswork in its collection," said Jean Woods, museum director.

Woods said the work will be around for generations to enjoy.

"His art touches our lives and opens up our minds to new ideas," she said.

The Hagerstown AAUW has donated 21 works of art to the museum. The organization also raises funds for community groups and provides scholarships for area students.

The group decided a stained-glass skylight was needed after touring the museum's new wing in 1994.

Past president Yvonne Thomas said she was impressed by the beauty and elegance of its new rotunda - but she found something was missing.

The dome ceiling at that time held a section of frosted glass at its center, which was functional but not particularly impressive, she said.

As Thomas looked up at the ceiling, she had an idea. "I thought it would be a perfect place for a stained-glass skylight."

After determining the idea was feasible, the Hagerstown AAUW board of directors agreed to raise funds through used book sales.

Seeing the skylight in place on Sunday, Thomas said she was pleased with the change it made to the rotunda.

"It's wonderful - colorful and bright," she said. "What a great greeting for people when they enter."

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