BUFFALO, N.Y. — Each week, we introduce you to a City Shaper. For the past year, we've been featuring the stories of the women who've made Western New York's resurgence happen.
This week, 2 On Your Side's Kelly Dudzik tells us how a stained-glass artist is introducing her craft to people all over the world.
The Stained Glass Association of America moved to Buffalo not too long ago. Megan McElfresh is the executive director of the Stained Glass Association of America.
McElfresh is a third-generation stained glass artist.
"I've always done it in one form or another my entire life, but I've also studied business, and math, and economics and really enjoy the figuring out how to help artists do their work, so this was sort of a natural marriage of my two loves. Glass and service to others," says McElfresh.
About two years ago, McElfresh was invited to lead the Stained Glass Association of America. But, it was headquartered in Missouri, and her family lives in Buffalo. So, she got approval to move it here.
"I think that Buffalo has one of the best living museums of stained glass in the country," she said. "And, what I mean by that is, you cannot go to a museum, really, and see stained glass, right? But, if you walk down Delaware Avenue, you can go in houses of worship, and civic buildings, and community centers, and majestic residences, as well as very common cottage residences, all of which have stained glass."
Founded in 1903 by American studios struggling because of glass coming over from Europe, the association started a magazine in 1906, and it's still being published today. It's written in McElfresh’s two-person office where they spend a lot of time answering calls from around the world.
"It's, you know, who made my stained glass windows? Where can I take classes? How do I restore my windows? How do I know if my windows need restoring? Are my windows insured for enough?" McElfresh explains.
At her roots, McElfresh is an artist.
The space was originally her studio. It was originally home to a company that made iron building materials and planters. She chose this part of the East Side because she could work overnights and not bother anybody.
"You're like, yeah, I need a 240 line for the kiln and landlords are like, no, not here, and the sandblasters, and the equipment," she says.
Part of McElfresh’s mission is also to work with groups like Explore Buffalo and Preservation Buffalo Niagara. And, if you go to Masten Park, you'll see the "Ray of Hope" mural. She created it.
McElfresh runs classes for students, has completed many art projects around Western New York, and hopes to expand her office to a staff of four in the near future. In addition to working on the East Side, it's where McElfresh and her husband are raising their family.
If you know someone who would be a great City Shaper, send Kelly an email to nominate them.
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