I have just learned of a most unusual iconographer from Ukraine whose medium is primarily glass beads. Her name is Angelika Artemenko, 26 years old. Despite her unconventional technique, she works with great care and piety, emphasizing the blessing of her bishop in all she does.
Ms. Artemenko begins by painting the hands and faces on canvas. She then embroiders all the fabric and background features using tiny glass beads and gemstones. A medium-size icon includes about 50,000 beads. Stylistically, her work combines elements of folk art and canonical iconography.
I find her work interesting in that the beadwork seems to lie somewhere in between an ornate riza, which is separate from the image, and embroidered drapery, which is part of the image. Of course, beadwork itself is not unusual on icons; some important icons have cloth rizas or frames embroidered with pearls and gems. And many embroidered icons include pearl beads in the halo. The use of beads exclusively on the drapery and backgrounds is something I’ve not seen before. It lacks integration with the painted flesh, and so could be seen as problematic compared with regular icon embroidery. But seen as a sort of riza, analogous to a stamped metal covering, it is not so unprecedented. Like so much iconography of a popular or ‘folk art’ genre, the love and devotion apparent in the work transcends the unconventional style. The result is an unexpected and endearing beauty.
Additional information: http://art.forblabla.com/blog/45389205843/Ikonyi-Anzheliki-Artemenko