12 Comments

  1. This is quite a discovery for me. The style of the iconography is truly spectacular, iconic in a very natural way, without the feeling of deliberate effort we have to put into our “rediscovery” of iconography in the west. The style makes me think of Medieval North European churches who also had the very flat graphic style against a glaring white background. As usual you are able to make us feel by your design that Orthodoxy has been in that area for centuries already.

  2. Fr. Emmanuel

    Thank you so much for this wonderful article. This is heaven sent and providential for me. I am a priest from the Philippines and a struggling student of iconography myself. I am currently still in search of an authentic and canonically acceptable iconography that could reflect/express my culture and my people’s unique faith-experience and at the same time also be linked with the Church’s teaching and tradition on icons. I have already worked on, aside from writing some canonical icons in the Byzantine tradition,a few others along Ethiopian-Coptic and Folk-Mexican “retablo” themes. Again, my sincerest gratitude!

    1. Very glad it was of interest to you. I hope you are able to find good pictures of New Mexican icons to study. It would be well worth someone’s time to do a careful study of how they relate to various traditions of icon painting. It is striking how similar they are to 11th-12th century Catalan icons I saw in the museum in Barcelona. It is really a miracle that this truly iconic art appeared as result of Spanish baroque religion confronting native peoples in America. It seems the native painters, with their tradition of flat geometrical painting and weaving, reverse-engineered Spanish painting, turning it back to its early-medieval appearance.

    2. Diane Prokipchak

      Father I would look into the primitive iconography style of the Republic of George also. http://www.holycrossonline.org/latest_news/special_events/2007/061007.php

  3. Lovely! I’ve seen some of those adobe mission churches in New Mexico with my own eyes, and wondered what the style might look like adapted for Orthodox buildings. Now we know. May God bless their construction!

    I’d be curious to get your thoughts on this: http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/take/to-save-the-catholic-church-redesign-it/1080

    1. I can give my two cents about this article. Obviously, the author know nothing of Christian symbolism and why traditional churches are the way they are. It is not out of nostalgia, but out of the very form of the liturgy and Christian anthropology/cosmology. If you look at modern designs, they go out of their way to “decenter” everything, especially the cross! The very notion of decentering a cross, which is precisely a symbol of a center, shows just how absurd and alien their world view is to Christianity. If you look at the second design the author shows, what is that big window doing in the top north corner of the apse? And why is the ceiling made in funky irregular diagonals? The reason Catholic architecture is returning to more traditional designs is because most of those people who wanted radical modern change in the church have come to the logical end of their reasoning and have left the church. Frank Gehry shows us what our world looks like, and unless you are mad enough to think that is what the Church looks like, then why go half way. Best embrace the millennial meaningful tradition of Christian worship.

    2. Another more simple and immediate reason why “avant-garde” architecture doesn’t work for churches is just how dated it looks a few decades after. This church here in Quebec : http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Repentigny_Notre_Dame_des_Champs_02.jpg certainly must have seemed like a good idea in the 60s, but now it is affectionately called “the hand-bag” by residents. So even notwithstanding theology, an institution that is the oldest in the world should be careful not to be petty. I’m ranting by now aren’t I? … ok, Jesus prayer…

    3. One absurdity of the article you mention (among several) is that it praises buildings that even modernists dislike. I went to a totally modernist architecture school with the most avant-garde professors. Everyone there agreed that the new cathedral in Los Angeles was bland, corporate, unspiritual, and a total waste of effort. They also thought Le Corbusier’s church in Ronchamp was a rather arbitrary piece of sculpture, and not serious architecture. The fact is, it’s almost impossible for a modernistic church to be good design, from anyone’s perspective. This is because a modernistic design by definition expresses the qualities of modernity, and therefore cannot align with the ethos of church liturgy. My secular professors were modernists to the core, meaning that they thought the age of the church was simply over and replaced by internet cafes and mediatheques. But they would honestly acknowledge that if one were to build a liturgical church, it ought to be essentially Romanesque in ethos. (They could respect Romanesque architecture in particular due to its minimal dependence upon ornament).
      The only modern church that I can remember that my professors liked is the ‘church of light’ designed by Tadao Ando. Note that it is symmetrical, dark, thick walled, and basically not so unlike a Romanesque church.

      1. …but the acoustics must be horrible in Ando’s square concrete box.

  4. […] Recent Design Work for Orthodox New Mexico – Orthodox Arts Journal […]

  5. Steve Robinson

    Beautiful work, Andrew. Our son is a monk at St. Micheal’s and showed us your drawings. I am very impressed with your use of the landscape, the existing buildings and odd layout of the property (not to mention the aesthetics). I wish I was still young enough to assist with the building, but my framing and plastering days are over I’m afraid. May it be blessed!

  6. Diane Prokipchak

    For those interested, the following gives some fascinating information about history of New Mexico church architecture in the mission/pueblo style. http://publishing.cdlib.org/ucpressebooks/view?docId=ft72900812&doc.view=toc&chunk.id=d0e199&toc.depth=1&toc.id=d0e199&brand=ucpress#X

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