Clerkin Higgins Stained Glass closed it doors for good today, exactly five months after the death of its founder, Mary Clerkin Higgins.
The first photo shows the studio space in May of last year. At that time, pandemic restrictions were in full force in New York City and little work was being done at the studio. Mary was hopeful that she could weather the storm, but COVID, construction issues in her building, and her weakening health made matters increasingly difficult. Mary ultimately accepted the fact that she would have to shut her business down but, in the end, doing so never got beyond the planning stage.
In the last few months, as conditions have improved, I've been able to call upon an amazing group of family, friends, and stained glass colleagues to help me do the job of closing up shop. Foremost among them has been Takuji Hamanaka, who worked with Mary for over twenty years. Without his knowledge of the studio and its history, not to mention his friendship and commitment, I wouldn't have been able to sort through the mass of material shown in that first photo. And I must also acknowledge the love and support of our son, Walker, and our daughter-in-law, Ana.
The second photo shows the space last Saturday, after we removed the last of Mary's paper documentation, business files, and stained glass art from the studio. A comparison with the earlier photo says it all, I guess. It is no small thing to take stock of a career of over four decades. It is time now to look after her legacy.
The first step in that process is seen in the third photo. The cover of the latest issue of Stained Glass quarterly shows a detail of Mary's panel, Shield Me, executed in the wake of her initial chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Here is her artist's statement: "Hand me my shield emblazoned with my motto -- 'Plod, Plod, Plod' -- the only way I get things done. The motto may not be elegant, or inspiring -- or in Latin -- but it makes me laugh, while also describing my reality." Plans are afoot for other ways to honor Mary and her work, and they will be announced when the time is right.
Thank you for reading all of this, and for reaching out to our little family during these past five months. It's meant the world to us.