Patois Mass: rooted in our culture
March 2, 2019
Good showing by RC schools at Junior Calypso Monarch
March 3, 2019

Looking ‘Through Stained Glass Windows’ – a street meditation

By Simone Delochan, Photos taken with permission from K2K Facebook page.

WE believe God is the source of all that is creative and good. We celebrate what is good and uplifting and give folks and opportunity to rethink how we express that God-given creativity at Carnival”.

This was the Rector of All Saints’ Cathedral, Canon Richard Jacob’s reason for allowing Carnival band K2K to launch their offering for Carnival 2019, ‘Through Stained Glass Windows’ at All Saints Anglican Church. Known for their departure from the typical bikini-and-beads mas, K2K Alliance and Partners presents an haute couture, and artistic approach to Carnival costuming that perhaps has not been seen since the halcyon days of Peter Minshall.

‘Through Stained Glass Windows’ takes Christian religious iconography, as expressed in stained-glass imagery which decorates churches, to the streets of Port of Spain. The theme is redemptive, and runs through not only the actual stained-glass concept of the band but the section names as well.

In an emailed interview with the bandleaders, twin sisters Kathy and Karen Norman explain the ideology underpinning the band’s concept.

The theme was first thought of for 2018 Carnival and is a continuation of what was actually presented last year, ‘United We Stand’. ‘Through Stained Glass’ focuses on the need for prayer and both “speak to the socio-political and economic environment” where there is an impetus to hate, segregation and anti-globalisation.

The five sections were each inspired by the St Francis of Assisi prayer and emphasise what is necessary to bring about harmony in discordant times:

Amare (love): Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Fidem (faith): Where there is doubt, faith

Spero (hope): Where there is despair, hope

Lux (light): Where there is darkness, light

Gaudium (joy): Where there is sadness, joy.

The imagery of stained glass has resonance on many levels for the creators. Historically referred to as the ‘Bible of the poor’, illiterate people found meaning in the colours, pictures and symbols and became a way for them to learn scripture.

“The stained glass in those times transcended boundaries between the affluent and the underprivileged.” Thus, religious art of the stained glass, and its history mesh with what Carnival has traditionally represented: a breaking of social strata, and a potential space for unity.

They discovered in their research the long and detailed process required to create these striking pieces of art that adorn churches globally. The clean canvas of the glass pane is broken, stained with colour, “marred with dark indentations” and eventually soldered back together to perfectly fit the window frame.

The making of stained-glass windows echoes the journey each individual takes. Lives, they say go through the same process of being shattered by experience, and rebuilt.

“Concomitantly, through the juxtaposition of pieces, we discover a story of faith overcoming doubt; mercy overcoming cruelty; light piercing through the darkness; and hope dominating despair….Our lives are like stained-glass windows, making each one of us the most complex work of art.”

The band then further embeds some of the prongs of Church— history, art, social-political presence and relevance, prayer—into a contemporary personal, local and global milieu.

Though ostensibly a religious approach, the Normans state in an interview with LoopTT published on September 7, that the themes are universal. Consequently, the themes have wider application beyond denominational.

In the emailed interview with Catholic News, they cited that generally the theme for each presentation is personal in nature: “…whether they evolved from a personal experience or a journey with others or the way the socio-political environment impacts us. The themes reflect out thoughts at a snapshot in time.”

Life, they continue, provides the inspiration for their writing and creativity, “…the good times, the bad, and even the times in between”. To capture the inspiration as it comes, they both walk around with “a tiny notebook” in their bag so they can document thoughts “real time”. These thoughts can then evolve into the themes and collections.

In a strikingly creative fashion, and in the band’s unwitting pre-Lenten call to reflection and prayer, K2K Alliance and Partners has brought a spiritual poignancy and meditation to the streets. This is evangelisation.