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Sacred Transmitted

Sacred Transmitted: A Century of Design from the Emil Frei Studio Archives

November 9, 2018 - January 27, 2019


Image credit: Siegfried Reinhardt, Lutheran Hour Ministries, St. Louis, MO, 1965, ink and watercolor on board, courtesy of Emil Frei Inc.

 About the Exhibition

"Sacred Transmitted" is an exhibition of liturgical stained glass designs from the archives of Emil Frei & Associates, an award-winning liturgical stained-glass design and fabrication studio in St. Louis, Missouri. Established in 1898 and run by five generations of the Frei family, the studio has made thousands of church windows across the United States.

Behind every stained glass window is an initial vision — a sketch grasping at a way to communicate visually the sacred while considering practicalities of a window’s location and illumination from surrounding light. On exhibition will be, for the first time, many of the studio’ archive’s watercolors, ink sketches, and drawings produced by Emil Frei Studio artists. This survey show reveals what typically remains hidden: the artist’s working designs.

By their very nature, designs such as these are not finished products, and as such they testify to the ongoing tradition of liturgical art. At the design stage, we encounter the artist in mid-thought, where the struggle to depict or reveal spiritual meaning is heightened. In some instances, we see notations and changes scrawled by the artist as he refines a concept. In others, residual smudges and prints left by craftsmen during fabrication stain the paper. This evidence of the human hand laboring in this creative work tells the story of the living tradition of sacred art.

While the windows of the Emil Frei Studio can be seen around the country, their designs have never left the archives for public viewing until now. This exhibition showcases the true scope of the Emil Frei Studio’s artistic production over a century on.

For more about the exhibition please visit

This exhibition is made possible by the generosity of the following institutions and individuals who have loaned their artworks: Emil Frei Inc., Winfield Galleries, Judy Frei-Howe, Saint Louis University Library and Tony Deck.
Curated by William Frank and Christina Hayes Haley.