A long time ago, a monk handed me a palette knife and told me to come and learn to paint icons. I accepted the call, and today work as a full-time iconographer.
The icons made in the Conestoga Icon Studio represent a vision of heaven from the village of Conestoga. While drawing deeply from the rich tradition of Orthodox iconography, their aim is to create a contemporary vision of prayer in the Americas. As such they greet us with candidness, joy, and peace.
All the materials used in making these icons come from the land—the pigment colours coming from around the village of Conestoga where the studio is located. Foraging from the soil, plants, and animals, these colours create a testament to the love of God which energizes the whole earth.
The work of the studio is broad. Icons are made for churches, missions, and homes. Workshops are offered from time to time across Canada. And, lectures about the studio’s practices are given internationally.
Icons at Home
The icons for the Icons at Home series are set to begin in the Conestoga Iconographic Studio in the spring of 2019. Using traditional methods and materials, 16 icons that have a special place in a house are being made in order to celebrate the way that a family’s home is a microcosm of the church. Once finished, prints of all of them will be made and available for people’s homes.
Each of the sixteen original icons is being made with the traditional approach, materials, and vision that the Conestoga Iconographic Studio is known for. The vision of each saint, or event, is focused on connection for those who pray before them with the kingdom of God. They embody an innocence, candidness, and joy. These icons are stylized and flat in the vision they render of the Kingdom—lines are bold, colour’s frank, and clothing rendered in a simple geometry. While participating in the rich tradition of Eastern Orthodox iconography, their rendering is towards creating a vision of prayer for those living in the West.
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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