A! Magazine for the Arts

Rhonda Kindig

Rhonda Kindig

Rhonda Kindig leads tours and teaches about religious art

March 28, 2018

Rhonda Kindig leads tours of St. Thomas Episcopal Church’s collection of iconography (“The Life of Christ” created by Mary Jane Miller) and teaches an overview of religious art at The College of Older Adults.

“My primary art history interest is for religious art, such as that of the Renaissance. I have occasionally taught College of Older Adult classes on overview of church art that I call The Painted Word. I am also the leader of the adult Bible Study at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, and the church happens to have an extensive collection of icons depicting the life of Christ. So, my interest in church art and Biblical scripture intersected in this icon collection, causing me to study more of the history and symbology of iconography, in order to include this in my classes,” she says.

Kindig finds the symbolism in icons its most intriguing factor. “For example, icons frequently display features with ‘inverse perspective,’ in which the vanishing point is not in the distance but with the viewer. The purpose of this is to draw the viewer into the scene to become a witness of the story,” she says.

Artists who create icons are not given total creative freedom. True icons must be faithful copies of original, authorized by the Orthodox or Catholic Church versions of a scene. This makes it difficult for her to identify a favorite, but she does have one.

“In an icon, the religious and artistic style is one-and-the-same thing. It is the correspondence to the written word that attracts me to an icon. So, to have a favorite, I would be actually identifying an original rendition of a scene and not any particular artist’s recent work. With this in mind, I find the icons done by 15th-century Russian iconographer Andrei Rublev to be very graceful and appealing. The St. Thomas collection includes one that is a copy of Rublev’s ‘The Hospitality of Abraham,’ and that is my favorite of the collection,” she says. Her favorite piece in the collection was created by Mary Jane Miller.

Kindig is a retired Montessori educator. She owned and operated a Montessori school and was a teacher-trainer and examiner with the St. Nicholas Montessori College of London, England.

She is happy to arrange tours of the St. Thomas “Life of Christ” icon collection. Call the church at 276-628-3606 and leave a message for her. She will return the call and arrange a convenient time for a tour. The tours are free and last about an hour. Public tours are held periodically during the year, particularly during the Virginia Highlands Festival.

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