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Icon writing a thriving practice

By Kate O’Gorman


SASKATOON — Gisele Bauche and Anna Mycyk have collaborated as teachers of iconography for nearly 20 years. According to the two women, the spiritual practice of icon writing is thriving in Saskatchewan.

Saskatoon “is a special area in Saskatchewan and in Canada where iconography is taking off strongly,” says Bauche. “Interest grows every year.”

With a week-long icon-writing retreat held annually, as well as two weekly classes and a network of other local instructors with their own growing pool of iconographers, Mycyk and Bauche decided it was an opportune time for an exhibit.

“We want to bring together iconographers from across the city and showcase the work of people who love this practice,” explains Mycyk. “There is a mystery to icon writing. It’s an ancient form of expressing faith.”

“Iconography is a spiritual experience,” Bauche elaborates. “When working on an icon, we focus on prayer — it’s opening a window into eternity. When you’re writing an icon or gazing at an icon, sometimes nothing else exists but that moment.” This exhibit “will be a sharing of how people have prayed and grown deeper in their spirituality through the process of writing their icon,” says Bauche.

“Each piece is a unique reflection of the individual who created it,” she continues. “It’s fascinating because multiple people can be creating the same image, but because each person has their own spiritual identity it’s expressed in its own unique way. Creating an icon affirms the uniqueness of each person.”

According to Mycyk, “Icons can take a long time to create. It is the opposite of how our life is now — so much of the world is fighting for our attention and what we take in with our eyes is very powerful. In contrast, iconography is about focusing on heaven. We step back from ourselves and look toward the eternal. It is a monastic experience; we come together to share food, prayer and practice.”

The exhibit, entitled, “Iconography in our Time: The Power of Visual Prayer,” will launch Nov. 19 at the Musée Ukraina Museum in Saskatoon and will run until Jan. 30, 2018. The exhibit will be open during regular museum hours.

“We are very excited about sharing the work of so many local iconographers,” say Bauche and Mycyk. “What makes the whole experience unique is the sense of entering into prayer. The collection will invite contemplation and reflection and we hope people will see how nourishing iconography can be.”

For more information call Mycyk at (306) 477-1118.

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