Debra Korluka
Orthodox Byzantine Iconographer

NOTE: A new web site for Icon Art Studios, Inc. will be completed soon.
There is a possibility that the site may be down for various increments of time while the new site is being worked on

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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.

Sacred Art

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.

Icon Classes

The schedule of 2014 icon classes are as follows: please register by sending a deposit of $75.00 to Icon Art Studios, 13921 127th Street North, Stillwater, MN, 55082. All inquiries can be sent via e-mail at akorluka@aol.com or my cell at 612-889-5868.

Session 1

at St. Mary's Greek Orthodox Church on Lake Calhoun, 3450 Irving Ave. South, Mpls., 55408, Thursdays from 5:30 to 9:30 on January 16, 23, 30 and February 6. Tuition cost is $135.00 plus materials.

Session 1 will concentrate on the prototype of "The Holy Face". All sessions concentrate on technique, along with a spiritual and theological study on the prototype.

2014 sessions 2 and 3 will introduce new painting techniques and will concentrate on the meaning of gold in icons. Students will learn various methods of gold decorative application using composite gold powder.

Session 2

at St. Mary's Greek Orthodox Church, Thursdays from 6:00 to 9:00 on February 20 , 27 , March 13, 20 and April 3 and 10. Tuition cost is $195.00 plus materials.

Session 2 will study and write an icon of Christ in Majesty.

Session 3

at The Basilica of Saint Mary, Hennepin at Sixteenth Street, Mpls., 55403 from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm on Saturdays during Great Lent; March 8 and 15 and April 5 and 12. Tuition including materials $295.00.

Session 3 will contemplate the sacrament of Baptism and will study and write and icon of St. John the Baptist. "Today he has John baptize him for the purification of sins, so that the Holy Spirit may come down from on high and raise humanity to heaven." St. Gregory of Nyssa.