Few customs or traditions have endured for longer than a millennium, but the use of icons in Russia is among them.
In this exhibition, the Knights of Columbus Museum is pleased to share more than 225 examples of Russian Orthodox iconography, along with other liturgical and devotional items.
Icons are often called windows into heaven because they are said to give the viewer a glimpse of the eternal realm. Many of the items are more than 100 years old, predating the Bolshevik Revolution (1917).
When Prince Vladimir of Kiev converted to Christianity — along with his country — in 988 A.D., iconography was introduced as a means of fostering religious understanding and devotion among the people of Kievan Rus (present day Ukraine, Belarus and northwest Russia). It followed the strict models and formulas of the Byzantine practice from which it originated but, through time, developed its own distinctions and styles. Today, Russian Orthodox icons are renowned throughout the world.
As a form of sacred art, iconographers historically prayed or fasted before and during the creation of an icon. Traditionally, icons were painted in egg tempera on wood and often accented with gold leaf or covered with ornately gilt metal covers called rizas. Rich in symbolism, they are still used extensively in Orthodox churches and monasteries, and many Russian homes have icons hanging on the wall in a “beautiful” (or prayer) corner.
“Icons have been synonymous with Christian prayer and practice for centuries,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “One of the great traditions of Eastern Christianity, icons are less well known here, and we are pleased that this exhibit will enable residents of the Northeast to grow in their understanding of the history and religious significance of these windows into heaven.”
Lecture: Iconography - Holy Tradition, Holy History
Saturday, March 8, 2014, 2 p.m.
By Marek Czarnecki
What is an icon and what are its distinctions? How do icons differ from other religious art? When and why did the use of icons originate in Christianity?
Using theology, archaeology, art history, anthropology, and the earliest legends of the origins of iconography, Connecticut iconographer Marek Czarnecki will examine how icons evolved from the earliest Christian art of the catacombs, survived the iconoclastic controversy, and became an inseparable part of the universal Christian patrimony.
Czarnecki studied under Russian Orthodox iconographer Ksenia Pokrovsky, who founded the Izograph School in Moscow. In recognition of his iconography and liturgical restoration work, Czarnecki received the 1996 and 2004 Artist’s Fellowship from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts. He is also the recipient of the American Council for Polish Culture’s Jan de Rosen Award, and has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts through the Southern New England Traditional Arts Program.
Presentation: Praying with Icons
Sunday, March 23, 2014, 2 p.m.
By Rev. Paul Halovatch, M.Div.
Religious icons said give a view into the eternal realm of heaven and can easily be an aid in prayer. Praying with icons is an ancient practice that involves using both natural and “spiritual” eyes: seeing what the icon communicates in both your mind and soul. Father Paul Halovatch, a priest of the Archdiocese of Hartford and guest curator of the Windows into Heaven exhibition, will lead a session on the time honored technique of meditating with an icon.
Father Halovatch has traveled extensively and studied iconography and Orthodox Christianity. He will lead participants in a basic step-by-step method of prayer meant to introduce deeper understanding and spiritual union with God, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints.
Workshop: Storytelling and Matryoshka Doll Painting
Saturday, April 12, 2014, 11 a.m.
By Marina Forbes
Join us for a unique workshop on the rich Russian folk tradition of Matryoshka (wooden nested doll) painting. Participants will learn the history and custom of the Matryoshka doll and be introduced to time-honored painting techniques and designs, and a demonstration of the Matryoshka dance.
Marina Forbes is a native of St. Petersburg, Russia. For more than 20 years, she has been an active artist, historian, storyteller, lecturer and teacher in the area of Russian art, culture, language and folklore, offering more than 75 workshops, courses, and presentations each year both in Russia and throughout the New England area. Marina is currently the Director of International Programs at the New England Language Center in Rochester where she coordinates cultural exchange programs, teaches Russian culture and language, and leads art-related tours to Russia each year. She is an active watercolorist and art teacher and regularly does dramatic performances of Russian fairytales.
The instruction is free and the wooden dolls will be available for purchase from the artist. Please register by calling at 203-752-4528 or emailing email@example.com.