Stained Glass in the School Art Curriculum
By Linda Papanicolao
Paper given at 35th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University (2001)
Introduction: If you have ever walked by a school and glanced up at the classroom windows, you may have seen the backside of a children’s stained glass project. The project is to make a small ‘rose window’ by cutting a sheet of black construction paper into a circle, folding it in quarters or eights, cutting out holes and filling the holes with colored tissue paper. Many elementary school art textbooks have a version of it. As an art teacher and an art historian whose specialty is medieval stained glass, I have always avoided the lesson, feeling that it rarely rises above the level of a “make and take,” and that it gives stained glass and the Middle Ages a bad name. Last year my school district bought a new elementary school art curriculum, Adventures in Art, ed. Laura Chapman.
I began looking through it, searching for lessons in which I might be able to do something with medieval art, and realized that the curriculum includes seven stained glass lessons, distributed on each grade level. All have follow the process of the black construction paper tracery template, with coloring systems that range from tissue paper to acrylic paint on clear plastic.