In a high-ceiling room with tall windows at the Shrine of St. Anthony, a contemplative silence permeates the atmosphere, intermittently broken by discussion, laughter and the ringing of a hand-held bell announcing the next step in creating an icon. At a six-day workshop, 10 students paint religious works of art as they pray silently. There are 22 meditative steps to each work of art – also known as icon writing – using prescribed criteria or canons dating back centuries. Dozens of pigments and multiple layers form the image of Archangel Michael, a well-known figure in Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
“Icon Writing is not just making an art, but a spiritual discipline and a form of prayer,” says Vladislav Andrejev, founder of the Prosopon School of iconography based in New York. Icon, translated from Greek, means “image.” Andrejev describes the icon as “a reflection of God, which came through the inner spirit of the icon writer.” Andrejev, 80, who emigrated to the United States from Russia in 1980, began painting icons in the Russian-Byzantine tradition more than 55 years ago. His work can be found in churches and homes throughout Europe, the United States, and other countries. Mick Michieli-Beasley, Maryland coordinator for the school who has taken several workshops says, “It’s a time of deep reflection. You’re creating the gospel in light and color…” For more information, go to www.archangelmichaeliconguild.com.