The Multi Talented Masonic Graphic Artist Brother Ryan J. Flynn

There is a new Masonic graphic artist on the scene and he is on fire! Brother Ryan Flynn, Senior Deacon of Ancient York Lodge No 89, Nashua, New Hampshire has designed two stained glass windows for his Lodge building. And it all started with an E-Mail.

“The Building Committee is looking to do some decals for the windows in the east. I mentioned your name. It’s time to do your thing.”

Flynn’s business partner and friend Brother Chris Busby knew that he had the right man for the job. So these two, working with Past Master Robert Bianchi of Nahua’s other Lodge, Rising Sun No 39, created two windows in plastic in five weeks. The artwork was all Flynn’s and when they get the funds to put it into real stained glass that will also be the work of Flynn.  Not just a designer and artist, Flynn has also a deep understanding of the art of making stained glass windows.

It will be quite an improvement on the immense shutters that cover the windows now and make the Lodge look like a building trying to survive an imminent hurricane. “Those dingy old shutters have never been opened since I was raised a Master Mason here 3 ½ years ago”, quips Flynn. “ Let there be light, beautiful light, is our new motto.”

Flynn has been an artist since childhood and has the credentials, the education and the experience to spread his wings now in this new found Brotherhood of Freemasonry.

“I have been artistic ever since  I could remember, but when I went to High School at Lexington Christian Academy, my teacher and mentor Chip Vanderbrug really implanted the love of art into my heart. That coupled with another amazing teacher of history, Dr. Watts, I came out of high school loving history and art and eventually went on to get my Bachelors degree from the University of Massachusetts  in Fine Art and Graphic Design.  While I was in school I loved to study about symbology, numerology and architecture. It became a hobby of mine. In 2006 I studied at the Univeristy of Richmond in Florence, Italy for a summer. While I was studying painting and architecture there I didn’t realize it but I was learning the beginnings of Freemasonry. I learned of the guilds of stone masons who worked together and trusted one another to create the architectural masterpieces of the Renaissance, and how they would learn from the ancients about geometry and science, yet only shared the knowledge with other members of the guild. So when I was approached to design these two windows I was eager to implant the lessons of art history and numerology into them.”

It’s one thing to be an artist but it’s another to have the knowledge of the Craft to actually create something that is relevant. Flynn is not a one dimensional person. He combines a knowledge of history, numerology, religion, ancient symbols and sacred geometry with his art and design. And he has the ability to manufacture art, a person of great creativity who also has the abilities of practical application. How many artist’s do you know who can also make a stained glass window?

Here is how it all came together:

“I was facing two windows, and I knew immediately that I wanted to express the two types of masonry, speculative and operative. The colors used would be Blue for Blue Lodge, Purple for Grand Lodge and incorporate red, historically, the most brilliant, expensive glass color. (due to it being made with gold).  The window space was a 108 x 44 rectangle but I knew I wanted to make it an arch. The border of the window would be 3 levels, with 8 medallions in them. 8, numerologically speaking represents eternity (hence, if you take a number 8 and rotate it 90º, it becomes the infinity symbol.)”  

“The operative masonry window would be in the north window. It would have the square and compass being illuminated by the light of deity. The compass would have a 24 point star behind it with a circular border consisting of 32 sections.  Surrounding  would be the icons of the 5 Masonic organizations that have met in the building –  York Rite, Scottish Rite, Eastern Star, Rainbow and DeMolay and these would be done in circles with borders that have 32 sections. In the medallions around the border are 8 symbols from the master mason degree.”

“The light shining down has a ratio connected to it. Many people do not know that 3,5 and 7 can be used to make Euclid’s 4th problem. By combining the circles in a particular way, it creates a specific angle that would be used to show the beam of light. I have attached a diagram here that outlines that.”

“Underneath the compass, lies 2 sprigs of acacia, with 32 total leaves.”

“On the bottom, I have placed the 2 columns on each side, with the masters apron, and the unfinished temple below. In the temple, the top, unfinished level lies large blocks. This is historically accurate for the ancient temples and ziggurats of ancient times, large unfinished blocks were placed to hold walls and arches in place before finishing pieces were added for aesthetic values.”

“Another feature I wished to use was the use of linear perspective when drawing the bottom half of the windows. As I mentioned before, in Italy I had studied the Italian architectural wonders of the past. My favorite person who I studied was Filipo Brunelleschi, who arguably started the Renaissance by spending his time observing the works of the ancients and dedicating himself to learning about geometry, physics and math. One of his lesser known contributions to mankind was the discovery of linear perspective, a way of organizing  mathematical points on a  2 dimensional plane that mimic 3 dimensional objects. This type of drafting was used to draw the mosaic floor and temple structure.   On the bottom, celebrating the two blue lodges that use the temple, have been placed Ancient York No 89 and Rising Sun No 39.”

“The south window’s theme was speculative masonry. The top is nearly identical, with the exception that the square and compass stand alone. Below, I placed the 3 tenants of Freemasonry written in Latin –  Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, surrounding figures representing –  Faith, Hope and Charity, with charity above all else. Each stand on a pedestal consisting of 3, 5 and 7 steps with the corresponding titles of what they stand for written on them.  Above the figures rises an arch with the working tools of Freemasons inside the bricks.”

“The figure of faith, on the left, stands holding her hands clasping a candle. As we learn in the EA history, faith was traditionally represented by two hands joined together. This is my way of incorporating that into the windows. Symbolically speaking, fire or light was a traditional representation of faith going back to times immemorial. Some of the most ancient religious structures in the world such as the tombs of Knowth and Newgrange Ireland were built to channel and deliver light onto the selected few who sought it. Thus, I included the lit candle into the figure of faith. Traditionally, the colors of red and  purple  were used to symbolize faith.”

“Hope, stands looking up in the traditional pose of hope, with the hand covering the breast. This pose was traditionally used in paintings and other depictions of the Annunciation in Christian art as well as in Greek and Roman art depicting the gods. She stands with her anchor by her side. Along with Masons representing hope with an anchor, the Hebrews and Christians use it as well, based on the book of Hebrews.  She stands wearing blue, the color of hope, which was thought to go back to the times of ancient seafarers that would hope for blue skies and easy sailing.”

“Charity stands center, above all others. She is clad in green and brown, the earth colors, which symbolize harvest and plenty. She stands handing out grain from a basket,  looking out at the viewer. I wanted it to look like she was challenging us to follow in her footsteps and be as charitable as possible.”

“Finally, on the bottom of the window, the words “Behold how good and pleasant it is for men to dwell together in unity,” one of my favorite lines from ritual.”

This multidimensional, multi talented Mason is already looking ahead to the next project for his Lodge,

multidimensional and multi talented because he is also a student of hieroglyphics. And that expertise will translate into 3 large clay tablets depicting the 3 Degrees in Freemasonry stylized to mimic Egyptian hieroglyphics.

But first he must get the stained glass design made into actual stained glass windows. And that is going to take money.

“This project was an amazing experience to partake in. I have been looking for a way to use my talents for something bigger than myself, and Masonry seems to be giving me the opportunity to do so. I hope I can work with my Lodge for more opportunities to produce artworks that will bring in funds for charity and others. I have many other ideas that I think will help me help Lodges to really make a difference in this world. And  hope other Lodges will contact me to do this. I feel it is my civic, Christian and Masonic duty to use my talents to help out as many as I can, and God willing, these windows will be just the beginning of my Masonic journey.”

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Fred is a Past Master of Plymouth Lodge, Plymouth Massachusetts, and Past Master of Paul Revere Lodge, Brockton, Massachusetts. Presently, he is a member of Pride of Mt. Pisgah No. 135, Prince Hall Texas, where is he is also a Prince Hall Knight Templar . Fred is a Fellow of the Phylaxis Society and Executive Director of the Phoenix Masonry website and museum.

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