“In the beginning was the Word…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
– Gospel of John
It is because God became man that God, in the person of Jesus, can be depicted in the icon. It is because the icon is the visual language of the Word of God that the process of iconography is referred to as writing, on par with scripture but in line, color and form. Icons offer a window of contemplation into the sublime nature of God; everything in an icon has a spiritual, theological meaning and is different from artistic paintings.
Traditionally, an iconographer fasts and prays before beginning to write an icon. The iconographer strives to live an anonymous life hidden in Christ and never signs an icon with her own name on the front. On the back of the icon, she may sign it “written through the hand of,” to acknowledge the presence of the Spirit moving through the iconographer and using her as a tool. The imagery is not an artist’s interpretation, but is dutifully represented by the iconographer in the same fashion over and over again. For this reason, any icon of a specific figure or message will always have the same features, as if lifted from a holy pattern book for icons.
Icons are based on sacred geometry, beginning with a shape equal to a key figure’s nose length, which is an ancient Greek tradition. The visual language of the icon has been maintained through the ages. Icon figures are much more elongated than traditional paintings, representing the transformation of earthly bodies into those transfigured by grace.
The icons at Resurrection Catholic Parish have been produced following ancient Byzantine practices: egg tempera is applied to true gesso (a traditional mix of glue binder and chalk, used to coat wooden panels). Egg tempera lacks the sensuality produced by other mediums such as oil, but egg tempera offers amazing transparency; forty or more layers may be applied to create this quality. Gold, another aesthetic medium emblematic of the light of God, may also be applied. The addition of titles, names and other writing on the icon is a near-last step before linseed oil is applied as a final varnish to seal, accentuate and reveal the depth of the colors. Finally, the icon is blessed to render it worthy of veneration by the church.
The first icons were commissioned in 2009 and work began in 2010 by the hand of Mary Katsilometes. More information about icons can be found at www.anastasisicons.com.
Read more detail about each and click here to watch a video of the creation of the first icon.