Judson Studios is Leaving Their Mark

Judson Studios is redefining the art of stained glass.

“If you stand in here long enough, you can hear the glass shift,” says David Judson, as he pauses in a storage room filled with hundreds of hues of colored-glass sheets at his studio’s historic Highland Park headquarters. That glass will eventually be transformed into installations for churches, monasteries, mausoleums, and even contemporary art pieces.

As the proprietor of Judson Studios, the oldest family-run stained-glass company in the United States, Judson is ushering his family business into a new era, not only for the company, but for stained glass. Since its founding in 1897, most of the studio’s commissions have come from religious institutions, but these days artist collaborations are becoming increasingly common and increasingly complex.

Judson fabricated Sarah Cain’s 150-foot installation of stained-glass windows now lining a passageway at San Francisco International Airport. The piece, We will walk right up to the sun, gives passersby the opportunity to bask in jewel-toned light pouring in from her abstract design, which is at once geometric and fluid. Cain works close by Judson’s newest workshop, a state-of-the-art South Pasadena facility that can accommodate giant works like the one she made for the airport.

Amir H. Fallah, who also works nearby, has become a regular collaborator. Among the many projects completed with Judson, Fallah’s Portals, composed of three large-scale panels, acts as a set of luminous dividers on the terrace of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health’s Koreatown headquarters. The imagery on each panel is drawn from sites around Los Angeles and references to Victorian, Korean, and mid-century modern styles.

Judson’s biggest art project to date is an in-progress collaboration with James Jean. When complete, Jean’s Pagoda will include more than 7,000 pieces of glass fitted together to form an immersive garden replete with fantastical flora and fauna. The 17-foot-wide, 14-foot-tall structure is the result of four years of collaboration between Jean and Judson—and generations worth of creative and technological advancements at the studio. Pending COVID restrictions, Pagoda will be on view this fall at Judson’s South Pasadena facility, in time to celebrate the studio’s 125th anniversary.

With Jean’s installation nearing completion, what’s next for the venerable stained-glass studio? Judson continues to dream big. He has hopes for large-scale collaborations with architects and of course, there will be much more art.

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