<em>One of the highest ideals of humankind is to love what’s loathsome and to embrace the unknown. </em> —Judith Schaechter <strong>V. Plugged In 2003–2005</strong> Schaechter’s respect for the traditional medium of stained glass is matched by her drive to innovate. She is well versed in the historic techniques of stained glass, from her medieval ancestors to more recent examples like Louis Comfort Tiffany. In her creative process, aesthetic and technical concerns are prioritized above and beyond meaning. The artist’s commitment to beauty and the transcendent is aligned with the expressive function of historic stained glass. However, her panels—hung from the wall in custom-made light boxes—are contemporary art forms that stand alone, quite apart from the medium’s medieval origins as an instructive and decorative architectural component within a cathedral. Raised an atheist by parents of both Jewish and Christian heritage, Schaechter has said, “I did not come to a place of spirituality naturally or on purpose. The stained glass led me there . . .” Schaechter’s open narratives, combined with the familiar and the fantastic, grant viewers permission for both personal and universal interpretations. As the medieval theologians believed stained-glass windows could confer inspiration and enlightenment to the masses, so too does Schaechter seek to turn on, enlighten, and illuminate her viewers.
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