The Washing (of the Disciple’s Feet), 2020.

Worshipping with the Saints,
here and now.

The Conestoga Iconographic Studio exists with a mission to root the experience of God in the time and place in which we live. It does this by creating icons with a simple style and in a way that is holy.

Its icons’ style aims to reveal the world as radiant with the light of its Creator within an American context. In the village of Conestoga (like much of the West), such a vision of the world full of glory is undeveloped. This style is simple, grounded in the belief that simplicity is the natural resolution of complexity. Lines are bold and calligraphic. Colour is frank and contrasted like a puzzle, while clothing is abstracted towards the geometric. In such icons, the saints and feasts of the Church are experienceable examples of a transfigured in Christ and present in the new world.

The way each icon is made embodies a revelation received from the land. Everything needed for the work is foraged in a faithful knowing of the local landscape. Trees are harvested with thanksgiving to build wooden panels. Dirt and plants are received as gifts to make pigments for colour. The farming of chickens and bees is done with love and provides paint and varnish.

While Symeon paints each icon himself, the studio is a small community business. Both family and friends support the studio with gifts of money and labour. Together, our work continues in the faith that God provides everything needful.

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Testimonials

Symeon’s iconography is a hymn of praise.

When Saint John of Damascus wrote his defence of the icons, On the Divine Images, itself a deep meditation on the meaning of the Incarnation he affirmed the sacrality of all God’s creation from the molecular composition of minerals, the glory of the cedars of Lebanon, celestial bodies, indeed, the whole of the cosmos. The Incarnation calls us to a deep regard for every human being and all creatures, the beauty of flora and fauna, indeed, the earth under our feet. The earth we walk is a reliquary and minerals and metals of each particular place a sacred treasure. Symeon’s iconography, drawing as it does on the local palette of each region of Canada, is a hymn of praise calling each of us to a deeper regard for our fragile world, a deeper attention to the Holy Spirit who “is everywhere present and fillest all things”.
David J. Goa
Founding Director.
Chester Ronning Centre for the Study of Religion and Public Life, University of Alberta

His style is elegant and simple and leads one to an experience of effulgence.n

It is my honor and my privilege to offer this testimonial of Symeon van Donkelaar’s Iconography. His style is elegant and simple and leads one to an experience of effulgence. His use of natural coloring is lustrous and gratifying. Following the traditional cannons of Iconography he is true to the ancient traditions while offering new and notable interpretations.  His Icons lead one into a renewed Spirit of reverence and celebration. 
Fr. Edward J Tomasiewicz, C. M.
Retired faculty member, DePaul University

Mounted Print Icons

Articles & Videos

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Painting an Icon of Saint Nicholas

“Those who set up the most holy icon (of Saint Nicholas) and greet it, who have it as a constant companion in their houses as though it were the beloved man himself, are conspicuously rescued by his meditations with God from the various nooses and traps of a life full of troubles.” —Michael the Archimandrite, … Read more

Painting Noah amid the animals

One of the icons painted this summer was Noah the Just. As a saint chosen to be part of the studio’s Icons at Home Project, and as an icon that I was planning to highlight in an article for Mortise & Tenon, it was one that I looked forward to on many different levels. What I … Read more