The July issue of Sojourners magazine includes an article featuring icon artist Angela Manno. As an established contemporary artist in the 90s Manno decided to explore liturgical art by studying under a master iconographer in the Byzantine-Russian style. Manno explains that the process of icon creation itself carries spiritual meaning, mirroring our own creation. The blank wooden board represents the tree of life. To this 13 layers of white primer are added, representing pure consciousness. A layer of clay represents the physical dimension and an overlay of gold represents our divine nature. Even the progressively finer textures of the pigments carry significance – a movement from the swirling chaos of early creation to the refined elements of soul and spirit.
What makes Manno’s current series of icons unique is that they each feature threatened and endangered species, plants and animals.
A Philippines Orchid.
A Loggerhead Sea Turtle
A Sumatran Orangutan mother and child, like a Madonna.
Manno says, “I am trying to convey the sacredness of all life, that all of creation is in the image of the divine, to get beyond our anthropocentrism and adopt a biocentric norm of reference…If we are to transform our relationship with the Earth into one that is cooperative and mutually beneficial, I feel the only way back – indeed our very survival – depends on nothing less than a re-enchantment with the Earth as a living reality.”
More of Manno’s icons in this series, along with an artist’s statement, can be viewed on her website HERE.
We are in the post-Pentecost liturgical season known as Ordinary Time. It’s a good time to train our eyes, and perhaps our artistic expression, however that shows itself, toward recognizing the holy in the ordinary, the divine in the mundane. Not just as a spiritual exercise, but as an act of resistance and survival – for our own and other species.