For the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience, Pearl River Glass Studio has created a stained glass window titled Father of Waters – a translation of “Mississippi” by the Algonkian-speaking Indians. In his design, Andrew Cary Young invoked an aesthetic sensitive to the Walter Anderson ethos to depict the symbolic cornerstones of our state. Its eye-level placement gives museum visitors the unique opportunity to see the window’s quality, creativity, and imagination up close.
The window, as a significant work of art, is a focal point in the MAX Church exhibit. For this reason it is reminiscent of historical examples of stained glass found in many Mississippi churches. The design features a vignette of neoclassical architecture anchored by a Romanesque arch with a symmetry that is immediately understandable. However, there are differences in the two sides: the more traditional left side is constructed with time-tested techniques and late 19th century opalescent stained glass; the right depicts a more modern application of design and materials.
The window is highly symbolic as subtle religious tones blend with state icons (e.g. the blues guitar, catfish). The focal point is a spirit bird hovering in front of a flowing river. The spirit bird form has been repeatedly depicted in the glass artwork and paintings of Young since approximately 1978. Because the window is described as a work of art by Young and the artisans of Pearl River Glass Studio, the inclusion of this artistic idiom is fitting. Through a religious lens, the bird alludes to the dove of the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus at his baptism in the River Jordan. In the spirit of a symbol, the bird dually references the abundant and verdant scenes in our forests and along the Mississippi. In the end, this window offers plenty of room for interpretation.