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Holy Spirit Tapestry

Grace Episcopal Church
Baldwinsville, New York
 
By Garth Foster and Dan Hardison

 
 
     
 

On September 28th, 2003, Grace Episcopal Church in Baldwinsville, New York, held the dedication for the Holy Spirit Tapestry – a 10 feet wide by 9 feet tall needlepoint mural. Over 50 people associated with Grace Episcopal Church created the tapestry based on a design by artist Catherine Kapikian. Commenting on the work she said, “In the shadows of Calvary waits our Resurrection God. Couched in the swirling, shifting hues, values and intensities of color, this work yields the mystery that God is at once Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. Fabricated by the resident community, it is a visible and material sign that God's love is found in this place through rich encounters.”

 
 

View of tapestry from outside the church.

   

When Grace Episcopal Church enlarged its narthex, the building design replaced the church's traditional red doors with glass doors in a wall of plate glass windows, symbolically opening the church to the village and the world. To fill the large white space formed at the back of the entryway, The Rev. John A. Shaffer, rector at Grace at the time, commissioned Catherine Kapikian, Director of the Henry Luce III Center for the Arts and Religion at the Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC, to design a tapestry for the space.

Her design consisted of 28 wool needlework panels set in four frames that would give an impression of stained glass windows. The work took over a year to complete using 159 separate colors crafted in basket-weave needlepoint. Parishioner Nancy Haney and Mary Helen Foster supervised the needlepoint tapestry committee. Bruce Haney, a math professor and Nancy's husband, calculated that there are 1,033,720 stitches in the work.

 

Tapestry Detail

Exterior and detail photos by Christopher Boyle

 

The tapestry became a labor of love and fellowship for the stitchers involved in its creation – young and old, women and men. “What makes it even more powerful for me personally,” said Father Shaffer, “is knowing the stories of all the people who did the stitching – the illnesses, the family circumstances". One volunteer was a Muslim woman whose family was aided by the parish as part of the Onondaga County Interreligious Council's Refugee Resettlement program. She participated in the project as her way of expressing gratitude for the support in helping her and her family during the resettlement. Reminded by a family member that the tapestry contained Christian symbols, she responded, "It's the same God".
 

Grace Episcopal Church
110 Oswego Rd
Baldwinsville, NY 13027

 
     
 
 

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2004 The Episcopal Church and Visual Arts