The Conestoga Iconographic Studio exists to embody a living theology of the land by making sacred art. In all things, it looks to Jesus Christ. He is the Son of God, and He created the whole world in the beginning. He was also miraculously born of a virgin named Mary. At his conception, heaven and earth came together, and the entire material world became animated by God’s Spirit. Every place now has the potential to be a beautiful revelation, inviting the experience of God.
Sacred icons are images of Christ and his saints through which we experience the Kingdom of God. As such, a holy icon is sacramental—bestowing to us the real presence of holiness. Through the studio’s work making traditional icons in the village of Conestoga (Canada), the local land is used to convey a spiritual vision.
Everything needed for our 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. In everything it does, the studio seeks to create from the local land an image of hope through its work and art.
Icons traditionally reveal the world as radiant with the light of its Creator within a cultural context. In this village (like much of the West), a vision of the world full of glory is undeveloped. The studio’s iconographic style aims to render in local colour and culture the transfigured state of the world. Lines are bold and calligraphic. Colour is frank and contrasted like a puzzle, while clothing is abstracted towards simple geometry. The studio’s icons embrace simplicity in their revelation of the Kingdom of God.
The Conestoga Iconographic Studio is a small family business. While Symeon paints every icon, each of the children is responsible for daily chores that keep the studio going. Annual events, like harvesting lumber and foraging for pigments, are often day-long tasks that bring satisfaction and joy to the whole family. Each icon is also the result of a broader community that supports its efforts. A wide variety of priests and deacons, iconographers and artists, academics, scientists and rock-hounds, all aid in the studio’s work.
Day by day, our work continues in the faith that God provides everything needful. The resulting icons show the world through the eyes of the spirit to a new community, embodying an approach to work that blesses the labourer and seeks God’s blessing in every place.
Paper icons from The Conestoga Iconographic Studio are printed with high-quality inks on heavy stock paper and a gold foil halo, creating a beautiful image of the original icon. Each is available as a 4×5″, 6×7½”, 8×10″, and 12×15″. Shipped all over the world, the worth of each varies depending on their size.
A 5 minute video about the work of The Conestoga Iconographic Studio and its approach to making sacred icons.
Special thanks to the monks at Holy Transfiguration Hermitage for their kind permission in using their music. To hear their whole album, visit thechoir.bandcamp.com/album/orthodox-hymns-in-gregorian-chant