The “Colored” Church, 3rd Edition: Railing by Suraiya “Sue” Howerter

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The thought and artistry behind the new church railing
Video Transcript:

The “Colored” Church, 3rd Edition: Railing

Suraiya “Sue” Howerter: I’m a blacksmith, an artist blacksmith, and what I’m doing is a railing for the church.

This is going to be a very simple railing. The railing itself is simple, and that’s so it doesn’t detract from the church. It will meet ADA (American Disabilities Act) requirements, and that will allow it to be very simple. That way, it won’t pull your eye away from the church, and there’s going to be four groups of five organic elements. So they kind of pull you in and say, “welcome,” see what else is here, and being that this is a historic church, I’m not connecting the railing to the church. So, we’re coming up almost to the wall, and then that’s where we stop.

It opens the doors to everyone who wants to come, and it is very special to me because I’ve always lived my life in a way that I’ve chosen my friends by their personalities or their character, and not by their race or their ethnicity, so it is very important to be able to do a project like this.

You would be surprised how many women are in metal work today, especially here in Central Texas, a lot of it because of Austin Community College. You can actually get a blacksmithing degree in one of two colleges in the United States, that actually offer a blacksmithing program.

But there are world class female blacksmiths that are 10 and 15 years my senior, and we just met with one last weekend at a big demo and workshop we did in Marble Falls: Dorothy Stiegler. She’s over 70, and she’s been doing it easily 40 years.

I hope it does the place justice, and I’m putting my heart and soul into it; and my helpers, Randy and Mary Joe, they’re putting what they have from their soul into it. And so, we’ll be a part of the property and the church, and hopefully people will feel that when they come up.