Noted Iconographer Gives Presentation at SUNY Potsdam
Guest Lecture Looks at 'Encountering Angels: Celestial Beings in Byzantine Iconography' on Nov. 17
Potsdam, NY (11/09/2018) — A noted iconographer will give a presentation on "Encountering Angels: Celestial Beings in Byzantine Iconography," on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m., in the Knowles Conference Center at SUNY Potsdam.
This community event is sponsored by SUNY Potsdam Campus Ministry and the St. Olympia Orthodox Church of Potsdam. The talk is free, and the public is invited to attend.
Mother Sophronia Hofstead, a Byzantine iconographer and Orthodox Christian nun, made her long-term home in the North Country earlier this year. Prior to this, she lived as part of monastic communities, but felt called to the life of solitude. She established her own hermitage and icon studio in Edwards, N.Y. There, she creates icons in prayer but also travels to teach icon painting, and lecture on various aspects of this liturgical artform.
"Encountering Angels" will focus on how the Christian East views and portrays spiritual beings -- about as far from the chubby figures on Valentine's Day cards as possible. Following the presentation, there will be an opportunity to ask questions. Hand-painted icons will also be on display to show how the iconographer creates these "windows into heaven."
"Mother Sophronia has a wealth of knowledge. Prior to becoming a nun, she had a full career as a chemist and so she can mix her own 'recipe' of ground minerals with the traditional egg tempera that has been used to paint icons for many centuries," said Dr. Jessica Suchy-Pilalis, a professor of music theory and harp at SUNY Potsdam's Crane School of Music. "The colors have a depth that is remarkable. She has lectured to my Byzantine arts class, and the students were absolutely enthralled. It is an astonishing thing and an amazing opportunity to have her in our midst."
Great Vespers, or evening prayer, service will also take place in Knowles MPR that evening prior to the lecture, at 6:30 pm.
About the guest speaker:
Mother Sophronia Hofstead studied drawing and painting through the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, N.Y., throughout her pre-college years. Even though several of her pieces were selected for traveling exhibits of young artists' work, art took a back seat to science, and she pursued an education and a career as a bio-organic chemist. Yet, she continued to paint, and she studied folk art painting and watercolor with various New England artists. In 1991, she began the study of icon painting, and from 1998 to 2003, she attended intensive workshops held by the Prosopon School of Iconology, founded by master iconographer, Vladislav Andreyev. From 2000 to 2003, she also apprenticed as an iconography instructor and retreat director with Sister Jeanette Serra, a long-time associate of Andreyev. In 2005, she studied with Anton and Julia Belov of the Yaroslavl Russia Icon Studio, and also learned fresco painting with Philip Davidov of St. Petersburg, Russia. Following her retirement from the Natural Products Chemistry Research Group at Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2001, she devoted herself to iconography. Seeking greater solitude for prayer, work and proximity to the liturgical life of the Orthodox Church, she began to live a more monastic way of life, and in 2010, was tonsured as a nun. She has lived with the Sisterhood of the Skete of St. Elizabeth the New Martyr in Jordanville, N.Y., and with Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery in Otego, N.Y. Although she has been an integral part of monastic communities, her calling as an iconographer continued to lead her to a solitary life. She had lived in the North Country for about a year and after spending some time away, returned to live in Edwards, NY, on a long-term basis in early 2018.
For more information about this community event, please contact Cynthia Eyler at (315) 771-7579 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About SUNY Potsdam:
Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America's first 50 colleges -- and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 3,600 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit http://www.potsdam.edu.