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Iconographer paints images to inspire faithful

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www.sunherald.com/2013/05/08/4650690/iconographer-paints-images-to.html Iconographer paints images to inspire faithful Published: May 8, 2013 By COLETTE
    Message 1 of 1 , May 8, 2013

      Iconographer paints images to inspire faithful

      Published: May 8, 2013

      By COLETTE M. JENKINS — Akron Beacon Journal

      COPLEY TOWNSHIP, Ohio — A plain white wall rose above the altar in the
      sanctuary at St. Demetrius Serbian Orthodox Church.

      That was before its transformation.

      Now that wall is covered in a brilliant blue that serves as a backdrop
      to a vibrantly colored icon of the Virgin Mary Mother of God with the
      Christ Child.

      "The Mother of God's arms are outstretched, welcoming people to carry
      Christ with them in their lives," said Filip Subotic, who created the
      image using custom paint made from water-based pigments. The image,
      known to the Orthodox faithful as Platytera, is the focal point of the wall.

      In addition to the traditional Byzantine-style icon, located in the
      domed area above the altar, Subotic created fresco paintings of two
      angels; six prophets (Enoch, Noah, Simon, Melchizedek, Aaron and
      Solomon) and an icon of Jesus on a cloth to represent the Shroud of Turin.

      He also painted the words "Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty" across
      the wall.

      The church commissioned Subotic to complete the paintings by Easter,
      which was celebrated at St. Demetrius and other Eastern Orthodox
      churches Sunday. Many Orthodox churches observe Easter, also known as
      Pascha, based on the Julian calendar. That date often differs from the
      Gregorian calendar, which is used by many Western churches.

      The Rev. George Mileusnich said the completion of the fresco paintings
      will bring added joy to the Easter celebration.

      "This is inspiring. It has been an enormous spiritual lift," Mileusnich
      said. "Each Sunday, during the six weeks that Filip worked to finish the
      paintings, the people would come in and be amazed by the progress. They
      watched it go from a blank wall to this beautiful creation, and they
      agree that it has brought more warmth to the church."

      Its original design called for the inclusion of the icons, but it wasn't
      until now that the congregation could afford to commission the work.

      St. Demetrius attracts an average of 60 worshippers to its service at 10
      a.m. Sundays. About 30 children attend Sunday School at the same time.

      The congregation traces its roots to 1918, when a church board was

      Thirteen years later, on Nov. 12, 1933, the first church building (on
      Lake Street in Akron, Ohio) was consecrated. When the congregation moved
      from Akron to its location in Copley, Ohio, it brought the icon screen,
      or iconostasis.

      With the completion of the Platytera and other paintings on the wall
      above the altar, the congregation is discussing the possibility of
      hiring Subotic to paint new icons for the screen.

      "The icons are here to inspire us in prayer and to help us grow
      spiritually. It's amazing how no matter where you are in the church, the
      eyes of the Mother of God are looking directly at you. Her eyes follow
      you; I don't know how he did that," said Milorad Jovich, president of
      the church council. "We welcome anyone, anytime, to come in and
      experience what we have to offer. Our liturgy is all about the birth,
      life and sacrifice of Christ. But whether or not people choose to visit
      us during the liturgy, we invite them to come in after the service or
      anytime just to experience this beautiful artwork that Filip has done."

      Subotic, who grew up in Belgrade and lives in the Chicago area, has
      traveled across the United States since 2003, painting images in
      Orthodox churches. He has done projects in a number of states, including
      Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

      He said the paintings, similar to the artwork of Michelangelo, provide a
      way for him to combine his studies in art and theology. He earned his
      undergraduate degree in theology at St. Sava School of Theology and
      completed art school at Oakton Community College. Both schools are in
      the Chicago area.

      Subotic grew up around artists and completed his first painting when he
      was 4 years old. His grandfather was an artist and his father, Vladan
      Subotic, was an artist who studied under Picasso and taught fine art in
      Belgrade (now Serbia).

      When creating icons and paintings in churches, Subotic sketches out the
      images in charcoal before he paints them. He said he never paints a face
      until he feels inspired by God with a vision of what it should look like.

      "This is holy work. The icons are pictures that teach theology," Subotic
      said. "As an artist, I want to help people know that God is the maker of
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