Welcome to Icon Art Studios, Inc.
As an artist I am blessed that my vocation provides me a unique vehicle, a gift, to connect with others on an emotional, intellectual and spiritual level. Art is a way we experience something larger than ourselves. We carry with us our life story, along with our fears and sadness, joys and blessings and it is through this personal lens that we experience art. There is an inherent richness; a beauty that resides in this universal truth and within it, a rich opportunity for dialogue.
In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, sacred art is believed to be divinely inspired by God and the artist is the vessel through which the Holy Spirit conveys its truth. Icons - two-dimensional painted images of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the saints-are revered as important tools for worship and devotion. They contain a capacity to inspire prayerfulness and contemplation. The style of writing (painting) icons remains timeless and is intended to provide a window to another world. To be an iconographer is to answer a calling and to fulfill a responsibility.
My Work as a Byzantine Iconographer
I grew up in the Russian Orthodox Church, and icons have long been an important presence in my life. I have worked as a professional iconographer for 15 years and an artist for 25 years and have studied with master iconographers in the U.S., Ukraine and Russia. I am commissioned to produce formal icons for liturgical use, practicing both egg tempera technique and acrylic paint on board, and I also do restoration work. I practice the Byzantine style of icon painting which has its origins in the 5th and 6th centuries. Each image carries a wealth of detail and symbolism, making the icon a visual storehouse of tradition and Orthodox belief. The images used by iconographers are based on centuries-old prototypes and stylized to emphasize their holiness rather than their humanity. Figures display conventional poses, have consistent facial details, and attributes personal to them. As new saints are added to the index, new images are adopted. As a result, the tradition is always expanding, while remaining solidly rooted in ancient forms.
A Connection through Time and Place
The icon is an organic and dynamic piece of creation that moves through time to speak to us. The key is to maintain its universality so that it may reach across generations. The creation of each icon is a spiritual journey steeped in tradition and culture. As an iconographer, there is a physical, mental and spiritual preparation necessary to achieve an inner silence and facilitate full immersion into the art form. This process allows me to become a vessel for sharing the truth of the divine through the creation of the icon. Part of what draws me to this art form is my own cultural heritage, representing generations of struggle in Eastern Europe and my ancestors' devotion to their Orthodox tradition.
While my work is done in solitude and contemplation, the most important element is to have a dialogue with the observer to gain their perspective and to learn how they are drawn into the piece. This dialogue and sharing can extend beyond the Orthodox faith. In community with one another, we can engage in respectful conversation about deeply human questions to build bridges of understanding across cultures and faith traditions. We can learn much by sharing our interpretations and perspectives. Imagine what might develop when we shed the robes of humanity and cloak ourselves in robes of the divine.