How local artist Ruth Nickens brought her stained-glass masterpiece to life in the First Commerce for Compassionate Care’s Reflection Room 

In the reflection room of the FCCCC, where light and color merge to tell a story of hope, Ruth Nickens’ stained-glass masterpiece stands as a symbol of hope, compassion, and the enduring power of healing. 
The Genesis of a Vision

Two years ago Ruth Nickens embarked on a journey that would become a testament to her artistic skills and compassionate spirit. Reconnecting with BBH’s Francesca Mitton, a former nursing colleague, the seeds of an incredible collaboration were sown. 

Their shared history and friendship laid the foundation for a project that would stretch Ruth’s artistic boundaries. The challenge presented was both exciting and intimidating — the creation of her largest stained-glass piece yet — to be installed at the newly built First Commerce Center for Compassionate Care. 

Overcoming Challenges: A Symphony of Glass and Lead 

The challenges were abundant during the build and sourcing materials proved difficult. The technically intricate nature of the piece demanded the use of multiple weights of lead, creating perfectly balanced lines that danced throughout the artwork. 

The construction itself was a feat. Perfectly square and tailored to fit a specific space, Ruth had to build a framework that later transformed into a full construction rig. This rig allowed for work on both the front and back, a necessity for the complexity of the piece. 

The Turning Point: A Fragile Masterpiece 

Five men assisted Nickens in turning the piece multiple times during construction, each rotation risking damage to the delicate creation. The fragility and weight of the stained glass added an extra layer of complexity to an already challenging process. 

September 2023: Completion and Conundrum 
Packaging the stained-glass window for safe transport

Nine months of meticulous craftsmanship led to the completion of the masterpiece in September 2023. However, the challenges persisted — now Ruth had to figure out how to transport a fragile piece that was too delicate for conventional shipping.

Miller Glass to the Rescue 
Miller glass preparing to transport the crated stained-glass window

Enter Miller Glass, part of the massive construction team at the FCCCC. What they expected to be a routine transportation task turned into a delicate operation. The stained glass was secured within its wooden rig, resembling a carefully sealed crate. Loading took hours, but the delicate transportation to the reflection room of the FCCCC was a success.

The Final Act: Placing the Window 

Nickens’ involvement didn’t end with construction. Her expertise was essential in placing the window into its final location. Handling the delicate stained glass, she worked alongside the project coordinator and construction team, ensuring a secure and precise mounting into the wall.

A Legacy of Healing 
Ruth Nickens standing by the recently installed stained-glass window

As Ruth sat studying her creation, the initial feelings of numbness and overwhelm transformed into pride. The significance of the stained-glass masterpiece became clear — it was more than art; it was a source of comfort, hope, and healing for patients and their loved ones. 

Nickens’ connection with Big Bend Hospice, rooted in personal experience, added a profound layer to her contribution. From being a recipient of support during her husband’s passing to now being a source of solace for others, her journey has come full circle.