Though Nguyen is still designing the roughly 6-by-8-foot, three-panel depiction of the Holy Child being held by the Virgin Mary, she is already looking forward to the project’s impact.
“I’m especially grateful that this is a long-lasting legacy and that my legacy gets to be in the form of art, which is very important to me,” said Nguyen, of Watchung. “I hope that people enjoy it.”
“I was just honored to be selected because I get to leave this behind, and it gets to be something that’s a permanent fixture in the school, and it’s something that people can visit and view for years to come,” she said.
For Nguyen, she especially appreciates the fact that her Oak Knoll legacy will celebrate the arts, a passion of hers that flourished at the all-girls’ middle and high school under the direction of Creative Arts Chair Will Cardell.
“I’ve always loved drawing, but reaching seventh grade and working with Mr. Cardell in the studio, I’ve come to recognize my talent and notice it’s something that I would like to do in the future, and something I really enjoy,” she said.
The genesis of the stained glass project began with a conversation between Cardell and Director of Maintenance, Jose Goncalves, approximately two years ago.
“We were marveling at the wooden floor, which had just been installed in the chapel and, as we had collaborated on that renovation, our conversation gravitated to another topic – what else could be done to enhance this liturgical space,” Cardell said.
Cardell immediately thought of Nguyen, and approached her about the project last spring. Over the course of this past summer, three potential designs were proposed that depicted the Nativity, the journey to Egypt and the Holy Child image that ultimately received the approval from a special committee composed of the Head of School, other administrators as well as members of the Theology Department and the Board of Trustees.
The design, which originally incorporated two angels, was altered to include St. Francis of Assisi, based on feedback from Sr. Eileen McDevitt, director of the Holy Child Network of Schools, as St. Francis was also an influential figure to Venerable Cornelia Connelly, Holy Child founder.
With the inclusion of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals, Nguyen added a cardinal, as it also represents the living blood of Christ. Rays in the sky will also incorporate the school’s colors.
Zach Green, a stained glass window artisan from Princeton, will translate Nguyen’s work from paper to glass, with the installation expected to be completed during summer 2018.