I couldn’t get my camera to capture the blue that glimmers through the cathedral from the Chagalls all the way to the west entrance, so I tried in watercolor instead. Still not satisfying, but better. I also love the off centeredness of the crucifixion, with that white figure showing up on the right hand side, but the deposition and ascension above and below (though less discernible from far off ) to its left. Brilliant design. I did one more sketch of the whole bank of candles that people light and pray by. It was a worshipful space, and I tend to paint the things that move me.
I wish I’d taken time to sketch the 1930’s smaller rose window at the back. Mary is central, and she is surrounded in a circle by several biblical trees (a palm, a cedar of Lebanon, and an olive tree) along with the moon, the morning star, and the sun. I love creation being so central in surrounding and celebrating her. I would have chosen an apple tree to go along with the others, given both Song of Songs and that lovely carol “Jesus Christ the Apple Tree,” along with the connection from Eve through her son Jesus to correct the original wayward bite. But that’s a quibble. It’s a gorgeous window in its own right. I loved the mid century glass they added in the restoration all the way around. There’s some subtle and beautiful grisaille windows as well. I wish I could have done these windows justice, and I wish they would hire one good photographer and get good images to sell. I was deeply disappointed in what was on offer. But it was a gorgeous cathedral to be in, and I’m so glad I went somewhere new this year.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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