During the week of June 6, 2016, six of our visual artists gathered with Stefan Eicher, a friend of Vox and global missions partner, for a residency in Austin. The focus was on iconography and story. In the coming weeks we will explore the artists’ work. Below, Joshua Tsang reflects on his piece. To see a full sized photograph, click here.
The image of the Archangel Gabriel was the most accessible of the traditional icons because my grandfather’s name is Gabriel and so is my middle name. As a child, my grandfather would comfort me and tell me that God and the Angels will protect our family because we were named Gabriel. The idea of protection and security stuck with me as a kid and gave me a sense of stability.
The process of creating the painting felt very transcendent, and I didn’t know exactly what I was making, but I trusted that it was intended for me to create it. Though I’m not exactly sure what it means, the smaller figure in the image is a representation of somebody, possibly my grandfather or me, with the Angel’s wings almost like another pair of hands embracing the figure.
The first night of the residency was spent learning about icons and iconographers both new and old. I was inspired by the contemporary artist Ivanka Demchuk’s simple and geometric style. I was drawn to the long, slender figures and the subtle and ghostly detailing. I was also inspired by Michael Reeder. He’s not a iconographer, but his portraits of people have a certain transcendent quality to me. They’re cartoonish while still having a lot of detail and 3D features.