Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson, wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson, once said “Art is the window to man’s soul. Without it, he would never be able to see beyond his immediate world; nor could the world see the man within.”
Brother Mark Floreanini’s artwork epitomizes that statement in more ways that one-especially his work in creating stained glass windows.
He began working in stained glass in a friend’s garage around the age of twenty. His friend made stained glass panel lamps and began to show Brother Mark how stained glass was done. So Brother Mark began to cut out a leaf for an apple pattern, put lead around it, and “in five minutes I had a stained glass apple.”
With his first stained glass project complete, an apple sun-catcher, Brother Mark was determined to master the art of stained glass so he began working as an apprentice in a stained glass studio and eventually became manager of a stained glass shop. Then in 1987, Brother Mark moved to Derry to begin his own business with Albert Banocy, a graduate student in Dayton. Albert was an excellent salesman with admirable people skills; Brother Mark was a zealous artisan who loves the art of stained glass. Showing their windows at the Pittsburgh Art and Garden Show opened new opportunities by bringing them business from the Pittsburgh area.
In 1997, Brother Mark felt called to enter the religious life at Saint Vincent. He recalled his opening interview with the Archabbot, when he expressed his experience in stained glass. “I asked if the community would be in need of my expertise. Archabbot Douglas replied ‘well, there are a lot of windows on campus’.”
Since entering the monastery, Brother Mark earned his master of arts degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in 2003, and a master of fine arts degree from the Savannah College of Arts and Designs in 2005. In the same year he was appointed to the Saint Vincent College faculty.
Since then, as the Archabbot suggested, Brother Mark has installed many new windows on campus. This year, class members installed twelve stained glass windows around campus and donated two windows for auction at the Saint Vincent Alumni Easter Ball. And since “stained glass never goes out of style,” he said, “the windows are installed as permanent fixtures on campus.”
“It’s not something everyone does and not many colleges offer.” It’s a way, he indicated, in which students can leave a legacy at Saint Vincent through a donation of talent. “Wouldn’t it be nice to return to campus with your children or grandchildren and be able to say ‘I did that?'”
In the future, Brother Mark hopes to offer classes in stained glass on a permanent basis for the department.
Putting together the puzzle of a stained glass piece is his way of building a permanent fixture for people to enjoy. And, Brother Mark adds, “you get the excitement of not knowing what the final project looks like until you lift it up and have the light come through it.”
For more information on Brother Mark’s Archabbey Stained Glass, you may contact him at 724-532-6733 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Vanessa Shepherd