I began painting icons in 2010 while I was a member of the Common Friars from 2009-2013. Our collective work was about being more connected: to ourselves, each other, our surrounding community, and the land. This manifested itself as a place called “The Good Earth Farm” where we held weekly services and meals and grew produce for our community and local food pantries. I had always been making art, but during this time my friend and priest Tom suggested I try my hand at Iconography. I poured over the traditional icons and the novice iconographer’s work; I started tracing. I traced over the lines of Christ, the saints, and biblical scenes for months until I began contemplating new icons based on our community’s life, work, and mission. As we were growing food for our neighbors and wanting to maintain a right relationship with the earth, my fellow friar and farmer, Paul often posed the question, “how do we become people who, in Jesus’s words, ‘consider the lilies of the field’?
This became the focus of my first original icon entitled: “Christ: Consider the Lilies". It was an interesting first attempt. My lines were shaky, and Jesus almost seems surprised that the lilies are in his hands. However, the community embraced the image because it was a part of our common experience. This showed me how art can be a placeholder for community’s thought, prayer, and action.
Iconography has since become a practice of more considerations: of color and light, of brush stroke and form, symbol and meaning. I am trying to become a better painter.
I do not wish to approach Iconography as an art form that simply follows an inherited tradition, knowledge, and practice. I want it to be a ‘holy pondering’, meditation, and process that potentially brings about a new way of seeing for the viewer and me. What is the artwork in our churches and communities for? Who are the saints that are among us here and now? Where is Christ present right in our own backyards?
My hope is that these icons can do what all art can potentially do, which is, to create more dialogue. By transcending our biases, listening, and having inner silence about our convictions, our inherited traditions, or our favorite ideas we can become open to the patterns of work, knowledge and experience we may not have seen in the other or buried in ourselves. The other may have something to teach us about who God is, the world we live in, and who are our neighbors. This is the real work of being human and of art. Being more present.
It is an ongoing journey of spirituality, craft, and considering lilies.
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