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New Icon for Bishop's Consecration

Two men in face masks painting a large horizontal wood icon
Nathan LeRud & Master Iconographer Fr. Jon Buffington

The Trinity Iconography Institute has been commissioned to write an icon in honor of the Rev'd Diana Akiyama’s consecration as 11th Bishop of the Diocese of Oregon. The icon to be written is “The Myrrh Bearing Women.”

In this icon, the Resurrection was first announced to women, who have been underrepresented throughout history. The women are being portrayed as they were historically -- women of color. This stays true to the Gospel and the Ouspensky prototype, and shares this most important message of Christendom in a way that speaks to modern times. An icon in the ancient tradition is made using Earth’s humble ingredients derived from animals, vegetables, and minerals. The icon panel itself is solid birch wood, which is a low resin wood, decreasing the likelihood of warping. The very first icons were written in the encaustic method, suspending natural pigments in heated beeswax. Later, hot beeswax was replaced with egg emulsion to bind pigments in a method called “egg tempera.” We mix our own binder from farm fresh egg yolks, red wine vinegar, and water. The pigments are purchased from Zecchi’s in Florence, Italy, where a pigment purveyor has been in the very same location since the time of Giotto at the beginning of the Renaissance (1300s). We use ground minerals, ground precious stones and humble Earth, which are the very same pigments the Uffizi purchases from Zecchi’s for conservation of the world’s masterpieces.

Fr. Jon Buffington (L) & Dean Nathan LeRud (R)

We are gilding this icon with two types of gold. Both are 23.75 karat; one is a Thai gold that has a high polish mirror sheen; the other is an Italian double gold leaf from Zecchi’s in Florence, Italy. Gold is highly symbolic in iconography as it is attributed to the celestial realm, “the light of the world” – our Lord. Gold was most likely chosen to represent the transcendent world because it was considered the purest Earthly element with the ability to retain brightness -- a metaphor for the luminous presence in an icon. Its contrast against darkness creates a silhouette of the Holy figures and recreates the experience of ancient lighting in a dark church. Students of the Trinity Iconography Institute, past and present, have the opportunity to work on this icon under the direction and supervision of Father Jon Buffington, the Master Iconographer of our program. To learn more about the process and progress of this new icon, click here!

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