In the Orthodox tradition, art in all its varieties is intended to portray the beauty of the created world and God's continuing love for all mankind. Iconography is a special form intended to teach as well as to adorn. Many Orthodox artists express their spiritual journey by creating pieces that speak to the Truth as they have experienced it, rather than portraying specific teachings of Church doctrine.
Tatiana Nikolova-Houston, Ph.D
10:30 - 11:15 Presentation: "Healing Grief and Sorrow through the Bright Sorrow of Lenten Iconography"
"I was born in Bulgaria in 1961. My father, a self-taught artist and theater director, inspired my love of the arts. I studied Landscape Architecture and designed parks and spaces for recreation and meditation. In 1990, I came to America, married, and received Master’s degrees in Religious Studies and in Library and Information Science, studying and preserving South Slavic (Bulgarian) medieval manuscripts. My doctoral dissertation revealed the 'secret history' of the Balkans during Ottoman rule (1393-1878) by studying manuscript marginal notes.
"In 2008, I started to re-create and re-interpret Byzantine and South Slavic iconography and manuscript illuminations, teaching Western audiences about the simple and meaningful illuminations created by Slavic scribes. I use the materials that they would have used: gold and metallic inks and acrylic paints, embellished by Swarovski crystals. The illuminations reflect the joy of spirituality, emphasizing the themes of the Light within and without and the Tree of Life as major inspirations.
"Since 2009, my 'Sacred Illuminations' have participated in 78 juried and 34 solo exhibits, in the U.S., Canada, Netherlands, Lebanon, and Bulgaria. Among those, the Antiochian Village Museum featured Sacred Illuminations in 2011 and 2017. In addition, I have participated in 120 art festivals and bazaars. My catalog currently includes more than 500 titles.
"'In the image of the Tree of Life' (Ps.1:3) received Best of Theme Award at Wesley Art Contest, Houston, 2014, and Winner of the International Spiritual Art Awards, 2020. 'Transformed by Gratitude,' 'The Glory of Creation,' and 'Bridge over Troubled Water' received Best of Show awards from the Texas Visual Art Association. 'Tree of Life - Holy Spirit' has been published in Christian Century, L-Magazine, and Behold. Kamerkoor Kwintesens used my 'Tree of Life - Infinity' for its production of Arvo Part's Adam's Lament in the Hague, Netherlands, and recently was accepted for 'In the Image of the Tree of Life' for the upcoming production Lux. 'Tree of Life - Eyes and Hands' served as a book cover for Peter Traben Haas' Beautiful Prayer. My artwork has been published in liturgical calendars, books, and online journals, and used in sermons by different Christian denominations and institutions.”
Niko Chocheli began to sketch at the age of 4. Today his work draws on the traditions of classical European art as well as those of his own country, Sakartvelo (known to the rest of the world as Georgia). His work is recognized for its rich palette and precise, detailed draftsmanship. Using art forms ranging from zinc etching, pen and ink, pencil and chalk, to tempera, Acrylic, watercolor, and oils, he strives to capture the eye with vivid color, and to capture the soul with a depth of meaning.
His formal art training culminated in a MFA from the Tbilisi Academy of Fine Arts. He has conducted more than 32 group exhibitions in France, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Greece, Russia, India, and Australia. He has held more than 30 solo exhibitions in the United States. His work is represented in the collection of Lasalle University’s Art Museum, where it is displayed among masterworks of Tintoretto, Rembrandt, and Picasso. Honored by his country for his artistic and cultural achievements, he was awarded an Honorable Doctorate from the Academy of Science, Arts and Humanities of Georgia, and given the title of Honorable Professor by the Tbilisi State Academy of Fine Arts. At the time he was granted United States citizenship, he was noted as an “Alien of Extraordinary Abilities."
Besides his interest in history and folk tales from around the world, he has found inspiration in the spiritual beauty of ancient iconography, which he considers to be "art for eternity."
Niko frequently speaks about a variety of subjects including fine art, iconography, art history, Orthodox Church History, and the history of his homeland. He is a lover of literature, fairy and folk tales, poetry, and humorous anecdotes of many countries. Many of these are incorporated into his art, illustrations, teaching, and public speaking.
He currenty resides in Doylestown, Pennsylvania where he established the Chocheli School of Fine Art. The Bucks County Chamber of Commerce in 2009 awarded him the Lifetime Achievement Award for his impact on the cultural and artistic life of the community.
"I am an Orthodox Christian with a love for Byzantine Iconography. With my love for the liturgical arts and a passion for making things with my hands, I attempted to create carvings on my own. I was then given the opportunity to attend a workshop guided by Jonathan Pageau (master carver and teacher) where I learned the fundamentals of icon carving.
I have done commissions for churches and individuals. My work includes Carved Icons, Prosphora Stamps, Crosses, and more!"
3:00 - 3:30 Presentation: "Artistic Inspiration"
"One day in the late ‘80’s I went downtown to paint the beautiful cityscapes of Oklahoma City, but there, in its shadows, I found the Homeless. They became my subjects. It was as if the Lord was looking back at me through their eyes. I could not turn away. For the next 3 decades, I recorded their poverty and misfortune, while realizing my own good fortune. We are all created in God’s image.
"When I was a 10-year-old kid on my way to buy some candy I saw a store window displaying a pocket-size book about the Renaissance artist Botticelli. I walked in and I was hypnotized. I bought that book instead of candy, and took it home and started drawing from it.
"I couldn’t quite get my mind around it in the beginning because my eyes were telling me something other than what my pencil was doing. The painter is a prisoner of two dimensions, oil or watercolor on a flat canvas. For more than a half-century I have worked within that structure in order to break free from it. If you combine multiple surfaces, bend and break them, you can give a bigger jump to your figures. You feel like you can pick them up or be there. I call it, ‘Being There.'
"I prefer to work from life, using drawings to develop large scale works in oil on canvas in my studio. Urban Oklahoma City has a wealth of interesting scenes along with unique and colorful personalities from which to draw inspiration.
"My large scale pieces, like the street scene from the old Deep Deuce District in Oklahoma City, are designed to walk into. Walking into a life-size portrait is something people can only accomplish by being there.”
"When working in the studio, there is no need for music or anything else to fill the silence. The process of making art and the shift into the right hemisphere are sufficient. It is difficult for me to put words on my work. I am content to leave that to the viewer. The most satisfying work for me is that developed from a desire to create art that is visually appealing and interesting, work emerging from the experience and silence of the process. In particular, I want the work to reflect my experience of Creation as expressed in Glory to God for All Things: An Akathist of Thanksgiving, written in Russia by Metropolitan Tryphon of Turkestan.
"Working in different media helps me avoid the possibility of artists block and presents new creative ideas. The more skills an artist develops, the more creative possibilities become available."
Gail Marie Trice is a Contemporary Artist living and working in Oklahoma. Her current focus is abstract painting in oil and cold wax medium. Trice also creates unique Artists Books in which she incorporates watercolor painting, mixed media and hand printed monotypes.
Gail is a native of Oklahoma City. She first studied art with Sidney Larson at Christian College in Columbia, Missouri, completing an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts. Following a year of study at the University of Oklahoma, Gail married and turned her creative energies to her family and home. Having reared three children, she returned to the University of Central Oklahoma, earning a Bachelor of Fine Art Degree. Her independent studies include workshops with several nationally established artists including Gregory Kondos, Steven Quiller, William “Skip” Lawrence, and David Phelps.
Gail’s work has been juried into exhibitions at state, regional, and national levels. They include the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition
Biennial Exhibit “VisionMakers,” Individual Artists’ of Oklahoma annual Traveling Exhibition “Twenty-four Works on Paper,” the Springfield Museum of Art’s “MOAK Four State Regional Exhibition,” and the Wichita Center for the Arts “The Wichita National.”