Behind the Cover: Prince Hall, Then and Now

Behind the scenes of the Summer 2024 issue of California Freemason Magazine's striking cover.

By Ian A. Stewart

Above: Stained-glass artists Armelle Le Roux and Ariana Makau (pictured) used both modern and traditional techniques to create an original stained-glass portrait of Prince Hall, complete with Masonic emblems and symbols.

How do you go about creating an image of someone who was never photographed or painted in his lifetime? For the makers at Nzilani Glass Conservation in Oakland, that was the challenge—and the opportunity—behind this edition’s cover image. Here, Ariana Makau, the studio president, offers her artist’s statement: 

Nzilani Glass Conservation in Oakland

“As a Black, female owner of a stained-glass fabrication and preservation company, I was honored and excited to be asked to create this month’s cover. We are constantly seeking opportunities to celebrate people who have contributed to communities yet may have previously been overlooked. 

No definitive image of what Prince Hall looked like exists, yet his influence is still prevalent. To depict this, we used a layering effect with a base of colored glass pieces and frit to build out the contours of his face. As a person of color, it was important to me not to use just browns and tans, but instead use a larger palette which reflects various facets of his personality. An overlayer of clear glass with linework, inspired somewhat by block printing, was a nod and tie back to the late 1700s. It also added definition to the features.

“I personally was impressed to learn about Prince Hall’s accomplishments. I hope the final piece engages the viewer and prompts one to learn more about this fascinating, multi-faceted historical figure. We certainly are richer from doing this project.”

Nzilani Glass Conservation in Oakland

Photography by:
Courtesy of Nzilani Glass Conservation

More from this issue:

2020 Ritual Competition

We are excited to announce that in 2020 we will again hold a Ritual Competition recognizing the importance of ritual excellence within our jurisdiction.

Read More