Icon writing workshop gaining popularity in Baton Rouge

Johnny Morgan  |  4/7/2016 4:26:11 PM

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AgCenter Vice Chancellor John Russin shares a light moment as he receives a Byzantine icon of St. John from Ginnie Bolin, icon instructor, at the week-long workshop held at the, LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden April 4-8. (Photo by Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter)

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Participants of the Byzantine icon workshop, held at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden April 4-8, confer as they write their icons of Mary Magdalene. (Photo by Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter)

(04/07/16) BATON ROUGE, La. – The Byzantine Icon Workshop, held at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden this week, is a week-long event where the participants write, reflect and meditate.

The process is not painting. It is called “writing the icon” and has been an art form since the early days of Christianity.

Ginnie Bolin, icon instructor and one of the original board presidents of the Burden Horticultural Society, has been conducting the workshops for three years.

Participants say the workshop is a spiritual time they can experience as they work on their individual projects.

Each participant works on the same icon, which changes with each workshop, but IT always has a religious theme. Mary Magdalene is the icon of the current workshop.

“This is not a boisterous workshop,” said LSU AgCenter administrative coordinator Pamela Rupert. “It’s very calm, very quiet and very peaceful.”

The current workshop runs from April 4-8, and participants write a different saint for each workshop, Rupert said.

For the past three years, the workshop has been help once a year at the Botanic Gardens at Burden.

“This year we will have two workshops, the second beginning on Oct. 31,” Bolin said. “Beginning next year, the first workshop will be held Jan. 23-27.”

AgCenter Vice Chancellor John Russin has attended each of the workshops but has not been available to participate, so this year Bolin presented him with a finished icon.

“Since his name is John, I wanted to give him an icon of Saint John,” Bolin said. The added twist to the icon is an angel sitting on St. John’s shoulder.

Russin said he’s always fascinated with the icon writing at the workshop.

“It’s an honor to have these individuals who are not traditionally involved in agriculture to come to our facility and get a chance to see what we do,” Russin said.

Dee Cavalier, a workshop participant, said this is her second workshop, and she looks forward to doing it again.

“My first icon was of St. Francis of Assisi,” Cavalier said. “It has just been something that I’ve always wanted to do. And when my friend told me about the workshop, I enrolled.”

Cavalier said the icon will be prominently placed in her home so she can cherish it.

During the eighth century, Iconoclasm, or the destruction of icons, occurred because they were thought to be items of worship.

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John Russin can be reached at 225-819-3800 or jrussin@agcenter.lsu.edu

Pamela Rupert can be reached at 225-763-3990 or prupert@agcenter.lsu.edu

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