Though I've been visiting Eastern Orthodox churches for more than 10 years, one church in particular hit me hard in the chest. The church was small and modest in an old gold mining town in California. It was posted on top of a narrow and steep hill so that as the miners went down for their day's work, the church would be the last sight they saw. The hill is surrounded on all sides by graves like barnacles climbing peer beams. They stop at the water mark, the church steps. And inside the walls are brightly painted with brilliant iconography. Floor to ceiling. Wall to wall. The impact is intense. Often iconography can be heavy in color, earthy in pigment. These icons were unusually bright and jewel toned. They hydrated something dry in me. It's not accurate to say that this was a religious experience, but it was a spiritual one. I've been trying to recreate that experience ever since. Sometimes with success.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, icons are a liturgical art. They are intended to be a form of prayer made by the painter. According to the iconographer, George Drobot, those depicted are men and women "who have restored the original beauty of the human being." I struggle with finding beauty and meaning in human life. I'm an artist - not an iconographer. And painting isn't prayer for me, but it is spiritual. It's an expression of yearning for the kind of human beauty I find so rare on modern Western soil.
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Emma Hadzi Antich lives and works in Austin, TX. She uses medieval methods to depict the desires of the modern spirit. Frequently her paintings explore various tensions within American culture: a love of freedom vs. the need for community; a celebration of science vs. a longing for transcendence; our increased power through technology vs. our inability to find satiety; and a search for truth and beauty vs. an attachment to convenience and utility.
|Martyr of Labor, Acrylic on Panel, 2013|
|Martyr of Appetite, Acrylic on Panel, 2013|
|Our Horizon 2, Acrylic on Panel, 2013|
|Weak, Not Wicked, Acrylic on Panel, 2013|
|The Other Side of Silence, Acrylic on Canvas, 2013|