~ INTRODUCTION ~
"Art has a unique capacity to take one or other facet of the message and translate it into colours, shapes and sounds which nourish the intuition of those who look or listen."
Letter of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to Artists, 1999
The Nazareth Studio receives its name from the home of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph at Nazareth. Like Joseph who was a humble workman, the monastic brothers and sisters of the Institute of Saint Joseph, have dedicated their lives to prayer and penance.
For centuries, to support their modest living needs, monasteries survived by baking bread, making wine, copying manuscripts, or more recently, selling printer cartridges online. At Nazareth Studio we share a traditional monastic way of life, centered on the Divine Liturgy of Holy Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours. As a part of our day we devote several hours to manual labor, part of which is used for the writing of icons.
The Icon is more properly said to be "written" rather than "painted;" much like the translation of Holy Scripture. "Icon writing conforms to a set of rules that are very different from the more realistic and humanistic art traditions of the West. At first glance, these images appear to be distorted and grotesque, stiff and lifeless. Only after patient study and prayerful reflection they begin to speak to our inner heart searching for God. Its artistic tradition, rich in symbolism and meaning, was developed to communicate theological truths to the faithful, providing in pictures what sacred scripture provides in words.
Pope John Paul II encouraged the Latin (Western) Church to study and appreciate the contributions and traditions of the East, so that the Universal Church might "breathe with both lungs." Remaining faithful to the rules of Eastern iconography but taking into consideration our own tradition we have begun to reach out to many people through our icons.
Over the years, our small religious community in western Wisconsin has been commissioned for many private collections and church displayed artwork. Each original icon is handcrafted from the beginning to the end, and the reproductions share that same high quality.
Since we are dedicated to a life of prayer and penance, these images will carry the message of hope and love to all who receive them.