This Icon was created experimentally using Pan Pastels applied with soft applicator brushes to a wood panel and then fused with encaustic medium, a beeswax and damar resin crystal mixture that settles to a rich finish.
St. Brigid is a favorite and often depicted Irish Saint of Kildare born in 451. This nun has a number of miracles attributed to her, and many symbols are used to represent her. In this image she carries a bowl of fire to represent a perpetual flame tended by nuns in Kildare in her honor perhaps a continuation of a practice since prior to Christianity. There are some indications that the saint was a melding of a pagan and Christian woman. The cross that St. Brigid carries here is a very specific cross that is made of rushes and in a form that was found before Christianity to symbolize the sun.
The medieval sense of time was the product of a very different way of thinking. The Book of Hours, private devotionals used to prayer the office or hours of the day were guides to the suggested prayers for each time of day. This piece is inspired by the Astronomical Clocks found in Europe that depicted the lunar phases, astrological calendars, and labours of the month or maps of what an agricultural based society was involved in at a given time of the year. Meant to map out the solar system and its relationship to time and daily experience according to the way man viewed the cosmos in that time, these elaborate clocks are fascinating.
Inspired by the highly illumined manuscripts, the background for this time piece is a mixture of hand beaded, embroidered and vintage lace. The four elements, earth, air, wind and fire are expressed in Latin. Each miniature banner at the bottom of the piece contains a embossed metal reference to one of the times of prayer at assigned hours or offices of the day: Matins (midnight), Lauds (dawn) Prime (6 a.m.), Terce (9 a.m.) , Sext (noon), None (3 p.m.), Vespers 6 p.m.), and Compline (9 p.m.).
While the artwork is completely imaginary and not historical, the elements found within this construction all have some acknowledgment of the way medieval people might have thought about marking time.
Domestic Icons held the most sacred place in the home. A child would be presented with his patron saint at birth and given this icon when he left home. Icons were carried on journeys, in processions as well as used for private devotion in the home. Often their construction included several panels and opened to reveal small shrines.
This piece was inspired by the domestic icon but also the medieval Book of Hours. These highly illuminated and personalized prayer books were often custom made for wealthy medieval women who used them in their private devotions. Often the illustrations included beautiful paintings of flowers, insects and natural elements. The pages were filled with imagery that elaborated on the theme of the prayers. Calendar pages could include the saint for that day. Here I have included some of my favorite women of the bible, Martha, Lydia and the women at the tomb. Typically, Saint Martha has been maligned for her hyper-concern for order, work and the material world. Here, that concern is represented by her devotion to the sacred ordinary and hospitality represented by the mop bucket she holds.
Saint Lydia was a merchant of purple cloth from Phillipa and also symbolizes hospitality. Known to have opened her home to the Apostle Paul, she welcomed many early Christians, inviting them to prayer.
Byzantine religious art was highly ornamented, studded with jewels and richly fabricated from precious metals and stones. This piece explores the motifs found in the visual language of that moment in time using a variety of fiber art techniques. Hand dyed, stamped and painted fabric emulates the expression of the icon, and the architecture that would have been found in some of the most sacred of all churches in Byzantium.
Inspired by art attributed to Hildegarde of Bingen whose mandala like designs depicting the visions of the mystic have been said to be the result of migraines suffered by the Benedictine Abbess (1098-1179). Her dazzling images often had flame-like halos.
Juan Diego, a Mexican peasant, had visions of the Virgin Mary that became the basis for the famed Our Lady of Guadalupe and a cultural phenomenon. The two images, Hildegarde’s flaming mandalas and Guadalupe are melded in this piece fabricated with hand dyed and commercially printed fabric, embroidery and bead-work on a wooden disc embellished by a calligraphic biblical revelation of the Virgin.
This depiction of Christ in Byzantine religious art and architecture is one of the most common and easily understood icons. In this imagery, Christ “Pantocrator” translates as “all powerful” or “almighty”. Christ’s right hand is raised in blessing and his left holds a book, the Gospels. He is portrayed as the “teacher” another understanding of the word Pantocrator.
An icon is “written” not painted as the word we use for painting means something more like painting a house. When the artist “writes” and icon, it is done in the style of a well-known image and not tampered with. The process of “writing” or creating the icon is for more important than the outcome and is highly contemplative.
This icon was created in Acrylic and not the much more traditional egg tempera of the orthodox church in Byzantine times that is still used today.