Sacred Symbol, Sacred Art

By Jonathan Pageau on March 11, 2015


In February of this year I was invited by King’s University College to give a talk in their Veritas Series on faith and culture.  The theme of this year’s series was “Speaking about God” exploring the different ways we express and address the Divine. I developed my talk in the context of the many discussions about art that have been happening on OAJ, about the distinction and relation of Orthodox arts to the contemporary world.  There has been much of this in the past year, whether we consider the vision of an integrated art given by Andrew Gould, the series on the Gift of Art by fr.Silouan (Justiniano) or several one time explorations by Richard Barrett or Fr. Ivan (Moody).  My approach, though a stand alone talk in itself, is as close as I have come to date to a synthesis of what I have been writing about for the last few years regarding meaning, art, symbolism and how all of those things fit together to form a truly Christian vision.

So I offer this then as my latest addition to the discussion of art, both Orthodox liturgical art in the stricter sense, but also a broader vision of how sacred art connects to contemporary culture.

Here was the advertised description of the talk:

“The rediscovery of ancient Christian symbolism and the worldview which flows from the web of its analogies can be a source of new life for the Christian artist. This symbolism is not only present in the content and message, but in the forms, the mediums and the very uses of art. Christian art can be a true and honest engagement within the contemporary world, one which neither ignores the visual and conceptual revolutions of the last centuries nor attempts to paste the Christian message on forms and aesthetics which negate this very message. ”


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  1. on March 11, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Dear Johnathan, Thank you for your interesting video. I am an artist, my work so far has been a response to my life; so my art has meaning for me. taken in isolation it
    would appear random. In the journey of life I find myself at the crossroads where I am
    contemplating exactly what it is to be the intrerface between objectively expressing
    the outer and the inner; their relationship to one another ; and the part I must play in
    their form, The love arises in my engagement of materials that best describe the truth,and form of living with a purpose. I admire your very beautiful work, each piece individual yet coming together like the words forming a sentince.
    I thank you for your encouragement of the christian arts, I believe there are many parts that will in time come together also . Many thanks, Best wishes, Virginia.

  2. Jonathan Pageau on March 11, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    Thank you for your comments, Virginia. I wish you the best in your own working out of all these questions.

  3. Kate on March 11, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    Bravo! Thank you for an insightful presentation on liturgical art. I understand better now why I feel so enfolded when I am at Liturgy. Your talk hit on so many key concepts for me. Keep up the good work!

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