I received a free digital screening in exchange for this honest “Holy Frit” review.
HOLY FRIT, a JUSTIN MONROE film documentary presented by ABRAMORAMA, ROCO, and TANDEM ARTS, follows an artist who has agreed to the commission for the world’s largest stained-glass mural, and he has no idea how to fabricate an art piece of that magnitude. With a three-year window, time is of the essence.
This multi-award-winning film follows the team over the course of three years, and it doesn’t hold back the drama, tense moments, or impact on Tim, the studio, and others.
Tim Carey, a former oil painter, worked for Judson Studios as a glass artist. Contacted by a megachurch in the Midwest, the studio wins the contract for the project to coincide with the completion of their new building. Tim revised the art proposal more than 70 times to meet the needs of the church. The mockup contained religious icons from the ancient Bible stories, historical figures revered for the past 2000 years to modern Christian leaders, and even a beloved child from the congregation. While the details may look busy on a small scale, when sized appropriately, the art will show through.
After winning the bid, they realized it could not be made in the traditional methods because the colors of glass cannot be layered correctly for the kiln. It was time to look outside the box which led to an artist known as Narcissus, who created a new technique of glass art: Glass Fusion. This new nontraditional method would eventually require a bigger studio better suited for laying out the panels and firing in the kiln. It also required a ground glass for layering color, and this ground glass is known as frit. This would be a game-changer in the industry.
As they begin the process of the 161 panels needed for the 4000 square foot mural, they realize the cost for the new method is bigger than the original budget, they need a signed contract, and they come to an agreement with the church, including penalties if the deadline is not met.
Tim and Narcissus have different ideas about the art. Narcissus seems most concerned with the final masterpiece, and Tim wants to make sure they stay in line with what the church wanted. As time goes on, we see that Narcissus is an artist living in his own world, flittering here and there, leaving Tim to takeover the project. Tim feels the pressure as they face equipment failure, employee shortages, and more.
To ensure the church they can get it done, they create the panel of the face of Jesus, and Pastor Adam is awed, eventually the first section of panels is delivered to the church site, and the panels of Jesus is installed. Backlit from the sun, it’s an amazing and glorious sight to behold.
Supply chain problems nearly threaten the deadline for installation. But, in the end, they get it done, and the team is invited to the Oratorio for the dedication at the church.
After the project is complete, Tim leaves the studio and creates his own business, Tim Carey Studios, and he continues to produce stained-glass art.
The HOLY FRIT documentary is a no holds barred view of what it takes to create this mural of epic proportions from the bid, development, using the new fusion glass method, and how it primarily impacts the life of Tim Carey and his family, but it also shows the relationships of others at the studio, and especially the relationship between Tim learning from Narcissus. It’s intense at times, the deadline forever looming over their heads till installation. By creating the world’s largest stained-glass mural, it transcends being a religious image into a grand masterpiece of art, destined to be around for centuries.