Or, ‘Be careful what you tell God NOT to do.’
Several years ago as I was finishing up my Bachelors degree in art, I was apprenticing with an iconographer from Greece. While I had some interest in iconography, at that time, I didn’t want to actually become one. I was more interested in the contemporary sacred arts; I had created a series of small abstract paintings called the Hexameron, and was in the process of studying figurative drawing and painting, preparing to create Bible illustrations. Iconography was not foremost on my mind.
In fact, the longer I apprenticed with this Greek iconographer, the less and less interested I became in iconography. I remember at one point emerging from my studio and shouting, “Lord make me a great artist, but NOT an iconographer!” I literally shouted this prayer in the hallway right outside my art studio; and I meant it.
The Icon of Joy
Typical of how God works however, here I am, several years later exactly where I told God I did not want to be. I am an iconographer! It seems no matter how hard I tried to run the other way, over and over God called me back to iconography; I have even received a grant from the NJ Council on the Arts to continue the study of iconography. Further confirmation that God called me to be an iconographer. Currently I am preparing to publish several works on iconography, and I am happy. Neigh, I am joyful.
While I still create contemporary works of sacred art, iconography is increasingly becoming my focal concern. I have seen it touch not only my own life, but the lives of others as well. I have seen countless students become devoted to the icon after a single workshop. I too am becoming devoted.
God knew my true heart. He knew that in my soul there was an iconographer who was buried under layers of ambition and pride. May the Lord continue to bring to completion the good work He began in me. God willing, I will continue to paint icons and teach others to paint icons as well. I truly believe that we need iconography today more than ever. The world is in need of light, and the icon a torch burning in the darkness.
So if God is calling to be an Iconographer … then don’t fight it!
Come and catch the flame!
To God be all Glory!
Pray for me a sinner.