Modeled after the Stations of the Cross, the Stations of St. Paul’s are a liturgical and art installation created by artist Janelle Washington drawing from in-depth historical research. Each station depicts a specific moment in St. Paul’s history with a focus on race relations. These 14 moments were chosen to represent the whole sweep of the congregation’s 175-year history. For each station, there is a reading and a prayer set into a liturgical form. The reading describes an incident or situation. It is then followed by a prayer that acknowledges the effect of the congregation’s action or position, laments or gives thanks, and asks for forgiveness and renewal.
About the Artist
Janelle Washington is a self-taught paper-cut artist from Virginia. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a BFA in Fashion Design and found interest in paper cutting afterward. Through the simplicity of paper, Janelle creates images that showcase African Americans’ courage, achievements, and grace in difficult situations. In addition, her artwork explores themes of history, identity, and beauty in African American culture.
She has permanent silhouettes housed at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, and Downing-Gross Community Arts Center in Newport News, Virginia. Janelle is currently illustrating a children’s book, and her silhouette of Breonna Taylor with the #SayHerName campaign was featured in the Oprah magazine, September 2020 issue. She is also a member of The Guild of American Papercutters.
My art-making begins with the process of contemplation, subject-matter research, information gathering, and art visualizing.
For The History and Reconciliation Stations Liturgy Project, my spiritual foundation for the prayer stations came from prayer and meditation from Isaiah 58:12, the guiding scripture found in the liturgy text. I built upon this foundation by taking personal photos of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church’s exterior and interior, reading “Blind Spots,” visiting the Hollywood Cemetery, and meeting and communicating regularly with church historians and members. My extensive research enabled me to formulate mental images for each prayer station, which turned into many sketches and finally into vector files, allowing me to use specific patterns continuously. I wanted each prayer station design to be truthful, exposing the good and the bad in history while also being a balm for personal confession. To do this, most of the stations are displayed in a tryptic: a top, middle, and bottom section with surrounding borders. The sections give space to the church’s history, allowing one’s eye to weave from one image to another while encompassing historical patterns that balance the design and connect with the accompanying station prayers. Another aspect of the process is the choice of material. Due to its strength and perseverance, Black Tyvek was chosen for this project, reflective of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church’s journey for justice and reconciliation.
Artist’s Description of Stations
Each video is about 1 minute long and provides an in-depth insight into how Janelle Washington choose to develop the images and aspects to highlight. You can find the Liturgy Booklet with the prayers HERE.