Russian Orthodox church buildings are known around the world for their beautiful classic artwork or icons painted by Russian masters.
Now an Orthodox church in East Green Bay, Wis., will also be added to the list of church buildings containing classic icons designed, painted and installed by Russian born artist Dmitry Shkolnik.
The seven large canvas paintings were designed by the artist in his California studio and brought to Saint Matthews where the final paintings are being added to the church building's interior, according to the church's website.
"What I am doing, it's very traditional Orthodox, Christian painting. And I try to follow the style and the step-by-step of the old masters," Shkolnik told FOX 11.
According to Father Eugene Wozniak, the church's priest, the hand-painted iconography inside Orthodox churches is an essential expression of beauty and revelation in worship and faith.
"They are a proclamation of the gospel. But along with that, they represent our doctrinal teachings, and they are a source of spiritual inspiration," Wozniak told FOX 11.
And what does Rev. Wozniak think of the final presentation?
"The icons are more beautiful than I could possibly imagine," he said.
The local Fox television affiliate has compiled a series of videos showing Shkolni and his team working on the icons. You can watch the work-in-progress here.
An Artist with a Seminary Degree
According to his online bio, Shkolnik was born in Moscow, Russia in 1960. While studying in high school, he developed a keen interest in Russian religious art. Upon graduation, he pursued a higher education in the field of architecture. Concurrently, he cultivated a knowledge of Russian craft art in the form of lacquer miniatures and icon restoration.
In 1979-80, Shkolnik began to work for the Russian Patriarchal Workshops (now known as SOFRINO). In 1981 he immigrated to the United States with his family. He enrolled in the Theological Seminary at The Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY in 1983. In his time there, he apprenticed under the well-known iconographer Archimandrite Ciprian (Pyzhov) for many years. In 1988, Shkolnik completed the Seminary with a Bachelors in Theology.
Since 1981, Shkolnik has written over 3,000 icons, completed more than 20 iconostases, and painted numerous church frescos, murals, and wall ornamentations. His work can be seen in churches and private collections all over the United States, Canada, Central and South America, France, Australia, Japan, Russia, Greece, and many other countries.
Visit Shkolnik's website to see his Iconographic Studio Gallery containing the works he has created.