26 June 2017

Bethlehem: Icon School

The Icon School, founded by Ian Knowles, offers courses in the ancient art of the icons: a way to go back to one's roots and create "open doors to heaven”.

Christians in the Holy Land

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Paintbrushes, colors and ancient techniques: Bethlehem teaches the art of the icon. In the Icon School founded in 2011 by Ian Knowles, an English professor and iconographer, apprentice-'writers' attend courses on Christian iconography: a way to go back to their roots and create not only objects but "open doors to heaven”.

Dir. of Bethlehem Icon Center
"My research suggests that iconography originated here in the monasteries of the Holy Land, in the 6th century. This is an ancient practice of the Palestinian culture and an ancient practice of the Christian community of the Middle East. Through this study, we reconstruct iconography from the time when the number of Christians in the Holy Land dropped to 1% of the population. So I thought that, by teaching iconography for good, as a profession, I am making a contribution."

Student - Bethlehem Icon Center
"The icon is the soul of our Christian life, and I love studying this art because I love Jesus very much and I learned how to know Him better through iconography. At the same time I have a talent for drawing, I like to paint ...so I am pleased to discover this art.”

Coal, wood, plaster: materials that allow you to come into contact with a tradition that dates back over1500 years ago. By re-creating figures and faces, students at the Bethlehem Icon Center bring new life to this sacred, sometimes forgotten art.

Dir. of Bethlehem Icon Center
"I teach theology, spirituality and technique. We use tempera, an ancient tecnique: so we paint with real eggs; we also create our pigments from the rocks we find on the way to Jericho. It is a real holistic and ecological process, which we do according to the highest standards.”

Rooted in Christian tradition, this school is open to Christians of all denominations. Hence, unique pieces are created here in order to revive this ancient tradition and to form new icon 'writers'.

Student (Female) - Bethlehem Icon Center
"I look at the images that I like, depicting Jesus Christ or the Saints, and then, after choosing the subject, I begin to draw in pencil, correct the lines...later, I would paint with the colors, choosing them according to what attracts my personal interest. It is not just a hobby ... I would like to deepen the study of this art, to make it a profession, especially because I am tied to my religion.”

Just in Bethlehem, where 2000 years ago Christ revealed his face, the icons teach that "the one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me" (Jn 12:45)