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House Blessing

By No Comments3 min read

A house blessing is something usually done to a building. This project is evidence of what a building can do to you.

Winifred and Donald Boynton handcrafted the Boynton Chapel with vision and determination between 1939 and 1947 in Bailey’s Harbor, Wisconsin. The small building is modeled after a 12th century Norwegian Stavkirke style. The Boyntons studied woodworking in order to recreate their ideas, which is no small feat considering the amount of highly detailed carving throughout the interior and exterior of the building. Winifred Boynton had already studied and been a visual artist, but the interior murals she painted add a level of detail and authenticity that makes an entrance into the Chapel feel like one has actually stepped back in time.

It took nine years to complete the Chapel. Nine years is a substantial amount of time for an art project, particularly one that wouldn’t be sold in order to compensate for that time and effort. It was, as they say, a labor of love.

This overview merely scratches the surface of the Boyntons and their project, but even in this brevity it raises important questions for those who read it. What is meaningful about turning ideas into reality? What might inspire a long-term vision to make something that comes from such a personal source? This recording was made inside the Boynton Chapel on September 30, 2018 as a document to further examine those questions.

Initially, the Chapel seemed like an interesting location for a recording, but upon visiting the site and learning more about the will and dedication of its designers, it became a more meaningful project.

The use of gongs and subtle percussion on the recording signifies the wonder and effect of vibrations, of ideas and energy, inviting focused listening and thought, perhaps regarding what ideas one might want to make reality.

Recorded at a high sample rate, the level of detail offers remote listeners a sense of the intimacy of the space and sound within it. Regardless of one’s religious affiliation, a chapel is an environment for contemplation. The aim of this recording is to extend that environment into one’s own.

Recorded by Hans Christian. Mastering by James Plotkin. Photography by Chris Rosenau.

House Blessing was released as a limited art edition of 25 LPs + photograph prints, a limited edition of 100 CD/photo books, and as an unlimited digital download in early 2019.

Thanks to Kim Eckstein and Mark Franke of Bjorklunden for helping make this project possible.