St. Mother Teresa Icon 2015 ©
11" x 14" , Archival Acrylic and 24K Gold
on wood board covered in muslin and gesso
Private commission, Calgary AB
The icon of Mother Teresa has been finally completed. Pretty much on the same day of the announcements that Blessed Mother Teresa will now be canonized a saint. The time required was impacted both by the complexity of the icon, and the realities of always having to be packed (somewhat) and ready for viewings as I try to sell my condo in order to relocate my studio to Vancouver Island.
The commission was complex in that it was of a prototype that is so well known and fresh in everyone's minds. There are so many memorable images of her, and some paintings have been done of her. I say paintings because most to date are not Iconographic per se. But I found one picture of Mother Teresa that connected with me, both in its strength and in capsulizing her life and sanctity.
A great part of Mother Teresa's beauty is her rugged features, of age and years of incredibly hard work and journey of the soul. The few paintings that I've seen of her wrestle with how to portray her. It is a daunting task to find that balance of remaining faithful to the person of Mother Teresa, while avoiding the image becoming a caricature while trying to paint in all the marks of age and toil. And yet, a traditional iconic image and gentler portrayal misses the gift of Mother Teresa.
The image also had her clutching a child which is so symbolic of the work of her ministry and the resolve to see her through such gut wrenching conditions with so much affection. The strength of that right arm holding the child, with all its signs of age and that of hands which have toiled, and her left hand supporting the child, is central to the icon. She clutches to the child, as the child in turn (humanity) clutches to her. The embrace is so profound, and made even more so by her forward gaze. In her embracing the poor and needy of the world, her gaze is both one of supplication to Almighty God for the strength required and for affirmation that she had not been abandoned, and also a supplication to us, the viewers of this icon, pleading that we continue her work, our Lord God's work.
The commission requested that the background of the icon be gray and that the inscription be in Greek. I managed to get the right gray after numerous attempts, in order to be in balance with the white and blue of the habit, the 24K gold, etc.