Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Icons: "They looked at me."

From Eastern Mennonite University, 1200 Park Rd, Harrisonburg, VA 22802, USA
St. Maximilian; iconographer: Jerry Holsopple
Last fall I had a series of posts that doubled as homework for a class called "The Religious Imagination in Contemporary Culture." The professor, Jerry Holsopple, had spent the previous year on sabbatical in Lithuania, teaching college courses and being trained to write icons in the Orthodox tradition.

Near the end of the our class last fall, his iconography exhibit opened on the EMU campus. In addition to the exhibit, Jerry did a University Colloquium lecture in which he challenged the Anabaptist tradition (and other word/text-heavy Protestant traditions with iconoclastic skeletons in the closet) to consider the significance of Orthodox tradition of iconography, one that doesn't treat artistic expressions as the property of the artist but rather as an article for the worshiping life of the church. And not only the piece itself but the process - start to finish, idea to reality, studio to cathedral - is a theological act within the context of the community of faith, the church. Given the traditionally strong ecclesiology of Anabaptism, this seems to be a challenge worth taking seriously.

The series of videos after the break was done by EMU undergrads in a film class taught by another one of my instructors, Paulette Moore. They are very well-done, consisting of interviews with Jerry as well as simulations of the process of writing an icon. Awesome stuff that certainly captivated my religious imagination...

Perspective - a Kelby Miller film

Stubs - a Frankie Coto film

The Gift - a Joaquin Sosa film

Blessing - a Justin Roth film

(via Paulette's Story Doula blog)

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