Images have always been a vital part of the Church. This was especially true when most people weren’t able to read or write. Through the use of images, the Gospel of Christ could be taught and understood by all.


Icons represent events from the life of Jesus Christ, historical events in the life of the Church, and portraits of the saints. They are usually two-dimensional images that don’t employ western techniques for simulating  depth and perspective. They may be made of paint, mosaic, embroidery, weaving, carving, engraving, or other methods. A person who practices the art of iconography is called an iconographer.


Icons are meant to be understood in a manner similar to Holy Scripture—that is, they are not simply artistic compositions but rather are witnesses to the truth. They are not creations from the imagination of the iconographer; instead, they are more like scribal copies of Holy Scripture. Thus an icon is said to be “written” rather than drawn or painted.


Anastasiya Chybireva-Fender

Anastasiya was born in Eastern Europe and immigrated with her parents to the US when she was fourteen. She started drawing and painting in her early childhood and received a figure-based atelier training. Anastasiya’s meandering path in visual arts education took her through the rigor of earning Bachelors and Masters degrees in architecture from The Cooper Union and the University of Texas at Arlington, respectively. She  received additional training with established realist painters both privately and in workshops. The blending of architectural rigor, purity of realism and strong personal narrative define Anastasiya’s work today.

She is recognized as an Associate Living Master by the Art Renewal Center. Additionally she has been awarded recognition by the European Museum of Modern Art, National Portrait Society, Connecticut Society of Portrait Artists, Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art, Poets Artists, and many others. Anastasiya’s work has been published in Beautiful Bizarre, and many Goss183 issues. Anastasiya’s work is available at 33 Contemporary gallery in Chicago. Her work is also found in private collections across United States and around the world. Currently, Anastasiya draws and paints fervently in her studio in Dallas with support of her husband and children.


Volodymir Grygorenko

"For almost thirty years, I have served the Church as an iconographer. Orthodox Christians believe the icon is the revelation of the Kingdom of Heaven in our material world. The icon reveals the ultimate truth about God and man. To portray the Truth about a subject is the goal of all real art. There is a connection and difference between painting and iconography. A good painter seeks the truth about the created world; an iconographer shows the truth about the Creator. Iconography is the art of arts, and an icon is more a work of art than of craftsmanship. At the same time, we cannot reduce an icon to the level of artifact only – an icon is much more. Only in prayer can an icon fulfill its purpose. Which is why an iconographer must be personally involved in church life.”

Volodymir Grygorenko.jpg

Titiana Popa

Titiana Popa was born in 1969 in Romania, in the village of Cernisoara, Valcea. She is married to the Orthodox priest Fr. Gabriel Liviu Popa, and they have two daughters, Ioana and Maria. In 1994 she graduated from The Romanian Orthodox Patriarchate Painting School.

Preotessa Titiana Popa has had personal exhibitions of her icons in Romania, Holland, Germany, Greece, Canada, Italy, Venezuela, and USA. Her work was chosen to decorate the official booth of Romania at The Berlin International Tourism Fair in 2000.

She also painted murals and icons of the Romanian Orthodox Church in Caracas, Venezuela, and in Palm Springs, California.

Her work is currently displayed at Milan Gallery in Fort Worth, TX, and she is working on the mural painting of St. Mary Orthodox Church in Colleyville, TX.

Dmitry Shkolnik

1:00-1:30 Presentation: "Stories of an Iconographer"

Dmitry Shkolnik was born in Moscow, Russia in 1960. While studying in high school, he developed a keen interest in Russian religious art. Upon graduation, he pursued a higher education in the field of architecture. Concurrently, he cultivated a knowledge of Russian craft art in the form of lacquer miniatures and Icon restoration.


In 1979-80, he began to work for the Russian Patriarchal Workshops (now known as SOFRINO). In 1981 he immigrated to the United States with his family. He enrolled in the Theological Seminary at The Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY in 1983. In his time there, he apprenticed under the well-known iconographer Archimandrite Ciprian (Pyzhov) for many years. In 1988 Dmitry Shkolnik completed the Seminary with a Bachelors in Theology.


Since 1981 Dmitry Shkolnik has written over 3,000 icons, completed more than 20 iconostasis, and painted numerous church frescoes, murals and wall ornamentations. He is an active member of the International Union of Artists, and has collaborated with some of the most noted Russian iconographers, including Alexander Lavdansky, Alexy Vronsky, Anton Yarzhombeck, Constantine Bokarev and others. You can see his work in churches and private collections all over the United States from Florida to Alaska, Canada, Central and South America, France, Australia, Japan, Russia, Greece, and many other countries.

Dmitry pantocrator_edited.jpg
Theotokos Sweet Kissing.jpg

Anthony Royce Gehrels

2: 00-3:00 Presentation: "How to Read an Icon"

Anthony Royce Gehrels has researched and studied Orthodox icons for approximately 30 years, focusing on ninety-three of the major feasts and saints of the Church. Long ago his research convinced him that icons speak to us in a special language of color, form, composition and symbol. Just as icons are said to be “written,” rather than painted, they are meant to be “read,” rather than merely viewed. Anthony’s presentations and articles focus on what iconography conveys beyond pictorial representation: how to read an icon.

Anthony received Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Arts degrees from Southwestern University in 1972, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from The University of Texas at Austin, 1982. He is a long-time parishioner of Saint Elias Orthodox Church in Austin, Texas.


Athanasios and Panos Evangelopoulos

Athanasios Evangelopoulos has been writing icons for more than 40 years, exporting them to several countries in Europe as well as the US. He is oldest son of a Greek Orthodox priest, Father Panayiotis Evangelopoulos, who was one of the first to make portable icons available to the people of Northern Greece. He follows the traditional Byzantine techniques of hagiography using egg tempera and 24-carat gold leaf. He continues to work and live in the outskirts of Thessaloniki, exercising his craft in the company of his wife.


Panos Evangelopoulos, the son of Athanasios, continues in the same tradition. Panos studied at the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, where he earned degrees as Bachelor and Master of Arts in Art History. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Art and Theology at the Aristotle University while teaching at a high school in Thessaloniki and tutoring students who are preparing to enter the University. He lives in Thessaloniki, Greece with his wife and two sons.

Athanasios Evangelopoulos 2.jpg