icons commentary

Becoming-Inter-With (egg tempera on gesso board)

This icon uses the traditional techniques of icon painting: organic pigments and mediums – the so-called earths (yellow and red ochres, burnt umber mixed with egg yolk and white wine) and precious metals (gold leaf and gum arabic); copying from an ancient and revered model; working in many layers from dark colours to light (earth to heaven, human to divine). In the original version - a type of icon called Mother of God Elousia (Tenderness) - Mary holds the baby closely and gently at her cheek. I have universalised the image by omitting the baby Jesus. Mary (Latin: Maria; Greek Mariam/Maria, Hebrew Miryam), mother of Jesus, and Miriam the Prophet are united in the one image. Hence the twin inscriptions: the abbreviation uses for Mary in the icon tradition, MR and the Hebrew Miryam. The two Miriams hold a space for the Eternal to dwell. The Eternal is not ‘something to be grasped’ (Philippians 2.6; (harpagmos, Greek, ‘an act of seizing, a spoil, a prize’), rather but met with an open palm. All icons call out to us to become inter-with them (see Ettinger’s The Matrixial Borderspace).

 Wit(h)ness (egg tempera on gesso board)

This icon is a simplified version of the Theotokos (God-Bearer) of Vladimir, one of the most revered of all Russian icons. The original model is Mother of God Elousia and again the baby is omitted to be replaced by strong downward and outward descending lines. These are uncontained and suggest a flow of energy into the world. Mary’s face expresses her Wit(h)ness (a concept coined by Ettinger, see above) of and in the Beyond. By looking at her, it helps us to receive the flow from That Space into ours.

Both icons were completed under the instruction of iconographer, Hanna Ward, my teacher and with the support of my fellow student iconographers, Sandra Hill and Tracy Wideman.