Iconography and Our Foundation
Icons are sacred images that reflect the physical, as well as spiritual, visible as well as invisible, ultimately, the human and the Divine. The worldview which is intrinsic to Christianity is a joyous message and icons help us to understand and see it. It is an art form that was developed in the first century of Christianity using a direct visual language and use of space which speaks to the human heart. This direct use of color and space is sometimes also evident in drawings by children. Mike’s childhood drawings of his mom, dad and sister, as well as his drawing of the Blessed Mother holding the Infant Jesus, are good examples.
A photograph can be seen as a window into the world around us. An icon, alternatively, is a window into the invisible world showing not the things people are familiar with in their everyday lives but instead, the Kingdom to come. Icons are painted in order to show this other world, the new heaven and the new earth where Christ’s victory is complete, the victory of good over evil, of life over death. So, the realistic or naturalistic method of depiction is not suitable for the icon. It requires symbols or signs in which the kingdom to come can be suggested. That is why icons do not look the same as traditional portraits, they are highly symbolic.
The Prosopon School of Iconology (www.prosoponschool.org) passes on this ancient sacred form of Christian art. The school’s instructors travel from place to place and conduct workshops teaching these techniques. Iconic, The Studio for Ancient Christian Painting Techniques hosts Prosopon instructors several times each year. Traditionally, the first icon taught to every student of the Prosopon School is St. Michael the Archangel. At Iconic, we also remember Michael Ward.