23 January, 2019
More than a year’s worth of work by Oak Knoll (New Jersey, USA) alumna and artist Christina Nguyen ’18 culminated Tuesday, January 9th, 2019, when the school officially unveiled a beautiful stained-glass display she designed to greet worshipers entering the Upper School chapel.
The roughly 6-by-8-foot, three-panel depiction of the Holy Child being held by the Virgin Mary was blessed by Father Scott Pontes, academic dean of religion at Oratory Prep, during a ceremony January 8, 2019, that included faculty, staff and administrators, as well as Nguyen’s family and some of her classmates from the Class of 2018.
Oak Knoll’s Creative Arts Chair Will Cardell, who first approached Nguyen during the spring of 2017 to design the stained-glass display, lauded her and the fruits of her labors.
“The project is an extraordinary and unparalleled one as the school has never engaged a student in such an undertaking – one that would be typically offered to a professional,” Cardell said. “But, as we are a school that believes in investing in the talents of our very capable students, the decision to give Christina this special assignment was embraced enthusiastically by the entire community.”
In addition to her artistic talent, Cardell called Nguyen his most humble artist.
“Even though there were some demanding moments in the journey, this creative endeavor was one of the most memorable in my lifetime,” he said. “I want to thank Christina, the administration and Oak Knoll for this awesome experience.”
Nguyen, of Watchung, currently a freshman at the University of Notre Dame, thanked her family for their support and for sending her to Oak Knoll where she received a faith-based education.
“Thank you to everyone who supported this project ever since that first meeting when I showed up with just three little sketches,” Nguyen said.
She also thanked her former teacher, Cardell, and Princeton-based artisan Zach Green, who translated her work from paper to glass.
“Thank you for believing in me since day one and for giving me this opportunity,” she said to Cardell. “Thank you for guiding me through this process and throughout my entire time at Oak Knoll.”
During the summer of 2017, Nguyen proposed three potential designs depicting the Nativity, the journey to Egypt and the Holy Child image for consideration for the stained-glass window.
The design, which originally incorporated two angels, was altered to include St. Francis of Assisi, an influential figure to Venerable Cornelia Connelly, Holy Child founder.
With the inclusion of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals, Nguyen added a dove and two cardinals, with the latter birds representing the living blood of Christ. Rays in the sky also incorporate the school’s colors.
Once the design was approved, she worked diligently on designing the depiction until Green took over and transformed it into glass over the course of the summer and early fall in 2018, with the glass display being formally installed on Friday, January 4, 2019, just before the school returned from its winter break.
Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child was founded by the Sisters of the Holy Child in 1924. Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child, Judeo-Christian in heritage, Roman Catholic in teaching and worship, is an independent school for boys and girls in kindergarten through grade 6 and young women in grades 7 through 12. The Oak Knoll community commits to the education and growth of the whole child, as envisioned by Cornelia Connelly, the founder of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.