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For the first time, Sitkans will get the opportunity to learn how to make Russian Orthodox icons at a workshop in February.
Iconography workshop kicks off in Sitka 012914 NEWS 1 Capital City Weekly For the first time, Sitkans will get the opportunity to learn how to make Russian Orthodox icons at a workshop in February.
Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Story last updated at 1/29/2014 - 2:01 pm

Iconography workshop kicks off in Sitka

For the first time, Sitkans will get the opportunity to learn how to make Russian Orthodox icons at a workshop in February.

"It's all very ornate and very beautiful," said Dr. Ana Dittmar, an anthropologist working through St. Michael's Orthodox Cathedral. "I think it's going to be a really great experience for the people that go to it."

St. Michael's Orthodox Cathedral and the Greater Sitka Arts Council are offering the workshop; Juneau-based iconographer Charles Rohrbacher, who has been icon writing for thirty years, is teaching the class.

Dittmar said the process of making icons is an involved one. Historically, they're made by seminaries, monks and iconographers.

Workshops have become popular over the last 10 to 15 years.

"It's ... a self-enrichment experience," she said. "You don't have to have any previous artistic experience."

Participants' tools will include 23 carat gold leaf, 12 different powdered pigments, five brushes, a burnisher, a gessoed birch panel.

Most of St. Michael's collection of icons are from Russia in the 1800s. Some are from the 1700s; some are from the early 1900s, Dittmar said.

Arts Council Executive Director Jeff Budd says previously, iconography was taught generation to generation within the church.

"The exciting part for me is as far as we know ... this has never been done in Sitka for civilians," he said.

The workshop is funded in part by a grant from the State Council on the Arts.

The evening of the first workshop, Rohrbacher will give a free presentation, open to the public, about his work and the history of icons. It will be at 7 p.m. at the cathedral.

The class is being held Feb. 7, 8, 9,14, 15 and 16. It will run for a total of 40 hours, and each participant will complete one icon.

For an application, go to sitkaarts.org.

• Contact CCW staff reporter Mary Catharine Martin at maryc.martin@capweek.com.


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