4 Comments

  1. Thank you for this post. I think there is a bubbling deep under the surface to create, revive, actualize a truly western iconography that is steeped in tradition without being bland copying. I have found this bubbling in myself, but have also seen it in those artists I have encountered. I have seen it in your own work, in some of the church designs of New World Byzantine and in many others.

    Yet I can only truly talk for myself. Faced with so much disorder, so much excess in our culture both lay culture but also in so called “christian culture”, my feet move very slowly towards my desire for this new art to appear. There is so much chaos in liturgical art, so much fluff or even subversive elements, that I spend hours pouring over medieval art, trying to grasp what went wrong and how to backtrack without sentimental pastiche.

    Certainly you have given the right elements we need to arrive at our goal. I think this space and any space where liturgical artists can exchange and visit each others works will also play a role in bringing this about.

  2. I agree entirely with your cautiousness, Jonathan. Total absorption in masterpieces, trying to discover their timeless principles that informed them, is the surest way forward.

  3. Although Aidan is speaking about iconography, all of it can be applied to music.

    I got SO excited reading it, because it articulates so beautifully the things that have been churning in my heart and soul for a long time. One of my almost daily struggles is trying to understand how we will go forward in this country to develop “indigenous and mature liturgical arts,” as the article is titled. Many have charged forth in the past 30 years to attempt this, often in zealous ignorance. My concern is how we will do this with zealous wisdom.

    This article states very clearly, and I believe accurately, what will be required for the Church in America to be able to do this. And it also makes it clear WHY it is taking such a LONG time. Brand new converts to the Faith (even very gifted ones) are not in a position to discern what is the appropriate indigenous artistic expression of a 2,000-year-old Faith. Neither are those who do not maintain “a deep spiritual life nurtured by liturgical and inner prayer, non-judgment of others, acceptance of God’s will, fasting, patience, and study of Scriptures,” as the article states.

    And there is the rub, because most of us are failing pretty miserably at this, partly because it is getting harder and harder to do outside of a monastic or quasi-monastic environment. We live in a country where we have been told we can “have it all.” And we tend to believe it. This has led us to some very “fuzzy” thinking regarding our salvation, our communion with God, and what a transfigured world looks like. I believe many of us think we can actually have these things WITHOUT giving up anything, without any sacrifice, struggle or effort. If this assumption weren’t so tragic, it would almost be comical.

    I strongly believe that until Orthodox believers gifted in the arts fully commit to becoming all that we are called to be by Christ and His Church, we will not begin to see appropriate indigenous and mature liturgical arts in America. What I love about Aidan Hart’s article is the assertion that ALL of the elements must be present, not just talent and not just piety.

    I am looking forward to reading more and becoming involved with this website.

    God bless you all for your efforts on this website! May it be to the glory of God and the building up of His Church.

    1. Thank you, Valerie. I think that missionaries need first to be prophets, in that before speaking the word of God in a culture they need to discern/hear what God has already revealed to it – just as St Paul did on the Areopagus. Their words will then affirm what is good as well as direct people further. This is what I feel we need in our liturgical arts.

      I have just completed a fresco in our present church in which I have tried to unite aspects of early western (chiefly Romanesque) and Byzantine liturgical art. I will post up images when the scaffolding has gone and I have photos – later this week.

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