Williamsburg Art Gallery exhibit highlights religious iconography

sbirkenmeyer@vagazette.com

Steeped in tradition yet a wholly unique collection of art, the Williamsburg Art Gallery’s latest exhibition celebrates the religious iconography crafted at the hands of one Greek Orthodox nun — although she’s quick to redirect creative credit to a higher power.

“It’s sacred art. It speaks directly to your soul,” said the artist, Sister Eliseea Papacioc.

She compared the act of painting to that of praying and noted that she does not sign her name on her work, believing it ultimately to be the work of God.

“Especially in sacred art, I know that you cannot do this without God,” she said. “I want people to worship God when they look at the paintings.”

Papacioc grew up under Nicolae Ceausescu’s communist regime in Romania; now, she lives in the Carpathian Mountains of her homeland and travels to the U.S. annually. Her iconography has been featured at the Smithsonian, the National Gallery of Art and the Vatican. Even the smallest of her pieces takes several months to complete.

“They’re very different,” said gallery co-owner Clyde Berryman. “It’s a very unique art form.”

Co-owner Gulay Berryman said she was drawn to the quality and refined artistry behind Papacioc’s works.

“They’re just outstanding,” she said, confident that those who come out to see the exhibit won’t leave disappointed. “I think they will be very pleased by what they will see. When you stand in front of it, you feel different.”

Want to go?

The religious iconography exhibit runs through Monday at the Williamsburg Art Gallery, 440A W. Duke of Gloucester St. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m Sunday. Admission is free.

Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-790-3029.

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