On December 1, the installation of the glass doors of Emmanuel Chapel, designed by Fr. Kim En Joong, represented the completion of the original artistic vision for the Church of the Transfiguration. Like the seer of Revelation, to whom the twelve gates of New Jerusalem appeared each as a shining pearl beautifying the walls of the Holy City (21:21), the artist has imagined and created doors of bright white, shimmering with the colors of creation’s spectrum. “I paint from dark to light,” Fr. Kim has said, an apt description for the way in which these doors also introduce to us the sacred space that lies behind them.
Emmanuel Chapel was designed for the reservation of the Holy Sacrament, and for the past twenty years it has provided an intimate space in the Church of the Transfiguration for personal and small-group prayer and meditation.
Fr. Kim En Joong, a world-renowned Dominican artist, was commissioned to design the chapel doors. Fr. Kim’s art graces churches, monasteries, abbeys, and other buildings in France, Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, and the United States. The glass doors of Emmanuel Chapel are only the second art installation of Fr. Kim’s work in the United States.
In a letter to Fra Angelico, his fifteenth century Dominican forbear, who also bore the double mantle of priest and artist, Fr. Kim once reflected on his own work, saying: “With a violent and purifying stream I would like to whiten this polluted world. . . .I am groping around to bring together an orchestra of colors and forms, just as one gropes towards Paradise.” Paradise is precisely the place for which the Sacrament prepares us and, by their dynamic and lyrical movement of light and color, these glass doors help to point the way. “My artistic action,” Fr. Kim once wrote, “is merely the effort of the prodigal son who wishes to rise and join the Father.” By the creation of these doors for Emmanuel Chapel, the artist takes us with him on that hopeful journey.
In this season of Christmastide, we share with you our joy at the installation of these doors!