These 23 icon paintings reflect a completed series, executed from 2006-2007. In 2005, I moved to Greece temporarily. I was immediately fascinated by the role the Greek Orthodox iconography plays in the lives of the Greeks. To them, the icons occupy the space that a living person would. The icons have a presence not just in religious spaces, but also in businesses and homes.
In Santorini, I met an icon painter who briefly demonstrated his process. He explained that icon painting, though straightforward in its readability, is actually the first example of conceptual art, as it is not the person being depicted, but the idea of the person. It took centuries to refine the iconography so it reflected the exact mythology surrounding the saint, with only a few carefully considered signifiers.
Back in the States, I began appropriating the Greek Orthodox aesthetic to examine the relationships in my own life, the relationships that I have often defined myself by. I began setting up photo shoots with friends and family. Sometimes I would approach the person with an idea, and sometimes they would arrive with their own. But most of the time, the photo shoot became a synthesis of the way I viewed the person and they way they wanted to be viewed. The aim and the result is an almost Platonic view of the person—the way they exist timelessly, in my mind, as ideas. The finished series was eventually installed in a recreation of my bedroom, filled with artifacts of these various relationships. Here I could sleep surrounded by the icons, which function as stand-ins for the people I want to keep close.
The icons are on permanent display at the L5P Music Center in Atlanta.
St. Noelle of 10th Street (right), Patron saint of optimism and childhood