Episode 8 – Jesus Christ Liberator

When Br. Robert was asked to create an icon of Christ as an African American in 1983, he at first refused because of his Orthodox training. The insistence of the man who asked him, however, led him to a prayerful wrestling with Gospel accounts of Christ’s resurrection, other texts from the New Testament, and examples… Read more »

Harvey Milk: A lesson in love

Of all the icons Brother Robert has created, his icon of Harvey Milk has drawn the most fire. The majority of the icon’s critics would describe themselves as devout Christians, basing their condemnations on what they see as Christian doctrine. It might seem strange, then, when Brother Robert says that he painted this icon precisely… Read more »

Episode 7 – Harvey Milk

Of all the icons Brother Robert has created, his icon of Harvey Milk has drawn the most fire. Harvey Milk made no secret of his homosexuality. He was elected to the San Francisco city council by a wide spectrum of voters the political establishment had neglected. On November 27, 1978, he died at the hands… Read more »

Transcendence: icon subjects through time

Robert’s icons span a wide spectrum, from completely traditional Orthodox images to images created for Native American, Black, or Asian peoples. Because he is best known for his innovative icons, people might be surprised to learn that his favorite images are actually traditional Orthodox icons. In traditional Orthodox iconography, icons are carefully painted according to… Read more »

Episode 6 – Transcendence

Though Br. Robert was trained in traditional Greek iconography, some of his work has taken iconography in new directions. The icons that Br. Robert paints are, in his own words, “a new kind of icon.” They are not Eastern Orthodox icons, but rather a new genre that he hopes will help revitalize sacred art in… Read more »

Past and Present: Iconograpy Process

There is much we will never know about the early history of Byzantine iconography. Most icons were destroyed in the eighth century during an official purge called the “Iconoclasm.” The few icons that survived on the fringes of the empire date from the sixth or seventh centuries. In the twelve centuries since the Iconoclasm, icons… Read more »

Episode 5 – Technique

The art and tradition of iconography dates back sixteen centuries and has remained largely the same since its origination. Brother Robert learned traditional iconography in a Greek Orthodox monastery and though he has introduced new and modern elements into his work, his technique stays true to the traditional methods used. In this video, Brother Robert… Read more »

Episode 4 – Iconography

From an early age, Robert has been fascinated with what happens to ordinary human beings when they allow themselves to be touched by God. For him, iconography is a privileged way to depict this. The art of iconography goes back almost sixteen centuries, forming part of the tradition that continues to nourish Christianity. Though he… Read more »

Episode 3 – Learning

Robert is a lifelong student and learner, but certain moments in his life resonate as particularly edifying. In 1980, Robert was sent to Chile to work in a Russian Orthodox orphanage in Santiago. The hope was that he would become a priest for the orphanage and the nuns who lived with the orphans. Instead, Robert… Read more »

Episode 2 – Politics

Robert believes that Christianity and politics are inextricably entwined. He has been accused of trying to push a political agenda with his work, however Robert maintains that Christianity has always been political and, in fact, one cannot be a Christian without being political. From choosing to follow or challenge the status quo to fighting for… Read more »