When we started the Via Lucis blog in February 2010, we had little idea of what to expect. We thought that perhaps a few people would be interested in the photography, a few in the religious subject matter. We had no idea that there were so many people interested in these churches and what they represented in the Middle Ages or what they represent at this time. We have also discovered a significant movement toward religious art. Calligraphers, sculptors, painters, and iconographers are creating authentic expressions of Christian spiritual belief. Our own growing appreciation of this movement is one of the reasons that we are profiling some of these artists.
Kathy Sievers is an iconographer who works out of Saint Elizabeth the Wonderworker Iconography Studio in Hillsboro, Oregon. She teaches at Iconographic Arts Institute at the Queen of Angels Benedictine Monastery in Mount Angel Oregon. She also teaches at North Florida Iconography Institute in Tallahassee.
Kathy studied iconography with Charles Rohrbacher, as well as Fr. Egon Sendler who is credited with being one of the key figures in the great revival of iconographic art. Kathy has completed icons for individuals and communities across the United States. She also writes articles and speaks to parish groups and college students about iconography. Her articles and icons have appeared in national publications and on websites. Her work was displayed at Pacific Lutheran University, where she gave introductory presentations. One of her works was included in an exhibit at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene, Oregon, and she has also exhibited her work in national and regional liturgical arts conferences.
Kathy is very eloquent about her work. “In iconography, my experience as a calligrapher and graphic designer combine with my love of color and painting and my interest in liturgy, theology and spirituality. I work as a traditional Byzantine iconographer. As an iconographer, I am called to assist in revealing the mystery of God made human through painting, teaching and prayer. As a member of the Church, I am called to put my skills at the service of the people of God, and to welcome each person to the mystery of Christ.”
I find it most interesting in a world as self-absorbed as that in which we live, Kathy makes the statement, “The work is not mine, it is the prayers of the community that is the work.” She never signs her work on the front, only on the back. Her statement that “the work comes through our hands” is an acknowledgment that the Holy Spirit guides her work.
She has experienced personally the revival of interest in liturgical art. “There is such a dearth of fine spiritual work, this is what leads people to appreciate this work.” We find the same appreciation for our photographs of the great Romanesque churches of France and Spain. People sense the great spiritual origins of the structures and respond to them. It is precisely here that we find common ground with Kathy Sievers and her colleagues around the world.
Note: On June 15, I received an update on some of Kathy’s latest work. Here are some photographs the icons of Saints Clare and Francis at Saint Clare’s Catholic Church in Portland, Oregon. The first photograph shows the icons in situ.
This second photograph is of the patron saint of the church, Saint Clare.
The second figure is that of Saint Francis of Assisi.