- The Washington Times - Friday, March 23, 2007

The ornate icons that adorn the walls of Eastern Orthodox churches are more than pictures or symbols.

They are direct channels of communication to the religious figures depicted in the images, said Margot Kopsidas Siegel, a lifelong member of Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Northwest.

An icon, according to the Oxford Compact Dictionary, is “a devotional painting of Christ or another holy figure, typically on wood.”

“It’s often called ‘looking into heaven,’ ” said Miss Siegel, who organizes the church’s annual Pan-Orthodox icon exhibit “to celebrate the beauty of the Eastern Orthodox faith.”

Iconographer Christy Chakos has described icons as “theology in color,” Miss Siegel said. “Icons are spiritual expressions with little room for interpretation.”

The fourth annual exhibit opens today at noon.

Fifteen professional iconographers — one from as far away as Romania — will showcase their work, which is displayed at various Orthodox churches around the world.

The free exhibit, from noon to 6 p.m. today and tomorrow, will feature handmade artifacts and crafts from Orthodox monasteries in Pennsylvania. Other area churches have loaned vestments, gold wedding crowns and other relics.

The church also will host a $5 class on icon-making today at 1 p.m.

Professional iconographer Colette Kalvesmaki, whose works are displayed at St. Mark Orthodox Church in Bethesda and Church of the Holy Nativity in Manassas, will demonstrate antique iconography methods using egg tempera paint and crushed gold.

An iconographer’s style, much like any artist, varies per individual, Miss Siegel said.

Miss Kalvesmaki’s antique icons depict more facial detail, with shading, eyelashes and other minutiae, MissSiegel said.

In contrast, modern iconography can be extremely simple and almost abstract.

The church’s address is 4115 16th St. NW. To register for classes, call Nikki Pappas at 301-949-0035.

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