The Orthodox understanding of the importance of the Incarnation is manifested in all the arts. The Incarnation is what we celebrate at Christmas: God became Man and entered Creation. Because of this, all of Creation has become a sacred space, and physical elements can be used in artistic ways to show our love for God.
From Fine Arts to Folk Arts, people have used Creation's elements to honor the Creator.
In this Festival of Orthodox Christian Arts, you can see many ways that Folk Arts have emerged from this understanding of Reality:
Pysanky were an ancient pre-Christian art form that became "baptized" with Christian themes by the Ukrainian people and others. During the cold, dark winters, people would use their time to create these beautiful eggs, planning to give them to friends for Pascha (Orthodox Easter).
Matryoshka dolls are a relatively new Russian toy-art form. They are increasingly being used to illustrate Saints and biblical themes.
Jewelry has always been used to show forth our faith through crosses, prayer ropes, and other physical reminders to pray.
Vestments for the Clergy are often quite elaborate--highlighting the ability of people to use textile arts to co-create Beauty with materials that God provides. They often include flowers and other natural images to celebrate God's beautiful Cosmos.
Beeswax candles appeal to our delight in fragrance, reminding us that our entire bodies are to experience God's Creation--and be reminded of His Presence. By honoring bees in this way, we proclaim God's love for all His creatures and how we are called to help all of Creation Praise God.
Incense, made from natural elements, likewise lifts our hearts and prayers to God. When the clergy cense the icons and the people, they are reminding us that we are all made in the Image of God...we are loved.
Prayer Corners/Icon Corners are a regular fixture in most Orthodox homes. Such a corner is yet another way that the faithful can be physically reminded of God's Presence and be encouraged to meet Him. Corners usually have Icons, candles, incense, embroideries, and flowers. When Orthodox enter a home and see the Icon Corner, they often venerate that space (make the sign of the Cross and bow).
Every aspect of our lives - both every day and the festive - is a canvas to express our love for God. Come and See!
Kh. Luanne Barr
Kh. Luanne first started doing Pysanky in 1990 when an instructor came to their parish in Tucson. She fell in love with this Ukrainian folk art and has shared her skills with many people over the years. Come and watch her at work—and try your hand at creating these fragile beauties! Supplies will be provided.
Sh. Priscilla Farman
Sh. Priscilla started painting Matryoshka dolls 7 years ago. Her love of these folk dolls started when she was a child in Germany and went to the Brussels Worlds Fair. Her parents bought her a doll from the Soviet Union exhibit there. The medium of the dolls allows people to interact with the images and biblical or saint stories as they open and turn them in all directions.
Paidea Classics & Studion Ministries
In 2018, Paidea Classics, a small Orthodox-owned publishing company originally started in 2001 to serve the Orthodox Christian homeschooling community, began the St. Katherine Bedouin Embroidery Project. It continues the work of Father Moses of Sinai, who had to retire from his effort of helping Bedouin women sell their embroidery work overseas. In order to help fund this project, Paidea Classics has also developed other Sinai-themed products such as laser-engraved Sinai gift boxes with contents from Sinai, Sinai-inspired essential oil fragranced soaps, laser-engraved lithographs of holy sites of the Holy Land and Sinai, etc. All profits from the sale of Paidea Classics items will fund the next St. Katherine Bedouin Embroidery Project.
Studion Ministries is a non-profit, founded in 2020, and is publishing books on Sinai with all profits going to St. Catherine's Monastery. It also is a distributor of St. Catherine Monastery incense in the United States. All profits from the sale of incense and Studion Ministries publishings will go to St. Catherine's Monastery.