The Beauty of Plainfield "Robinson" Window

January 5, 2018

The The 14-by-18-foot 1947 "Robinson" Stained Glass Window at the First Unitarian Society of Plainfield, NJ was restored in 2010.

 

About the Artist

Oliver Smith was born in Lynn, Massachusetts on October 1, 1896, and died on May 17, 1980 in Green Valley, Arizona. Smith suffered polio along with an injury in childhood, which resulted in his right arm becoming paralyzed and later amputated. Smith accomplished all of his stained glass and painting with only his left arm. Minard Smith, Oliver's son, reported seeing his father hold glass with his shoulder or chest where normally one would use an arm to do the work. 

Oliver Smith's studio was in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania in 1929, and possibly earlier. He became closely associated with the Bryn Athyn Cathedral and completed a number of the windows there. There are also a number of his windows at Princeton Chapel, Princeton, NJ; Clothier Memorial Hall, Swarthmore, PA; and Temple B'Nai Brith, Los Angeles, CA;Temple Temple Emanu-El in New York City; the Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago and the Reformation Lutheran Church in Washington DC. Smith's paintings have been exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the National Academy of Design and the Kennedy Gallery in New York City. 

Oliver Smith attended the Rhode Island School of Design (RSID) for six years, graduating with a degree in painting in June 1918. He gained a degree of success as a painter, and many of his paintings are still on display in museums across the United States. He met and married Hope Fales Dimond, who was also a stained glass artisan at RSID. Her son reported that she did the more delicate designs for the glass that she and Smith made together. In 1921-22, Smith toured Europe and then studied at the London School of Arts and Crafts. 

Smith's windows are typically in the Arts and Crafts style, with heavy medieval overtones.

 

It is named after Alson Haven Robinson, who served as the church's minister from 1919 to 1945. It is different from a lot of stained glass windows because it recognizes the wisdom of the many different religious and spiritual sources that influence Unitarian Universalist beliefs.
The window also has medallions representing family, agriculture, commerce, religion, music, and industry. "It's an appreciation of things that humanity can do," 

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