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A study of faith in tiny brushstrokes

TARPON SPRINGS — Sister Eliseea Papaciòc lives a very simple life in a small town in Romania.

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When inspiration strikes, she fells a tree, cures the wood and primes the surface.

Then she proceeds to turn divine messages into works of art called icons.

"Revelations of faith come to her through prayer and dialog with God," said Lynn Whitelaw, director of the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art.

Sunday, the Romanian Orthodox nun will be at the museum to discuss her calling as an iconographer and her works, seven of which will be on display in the Focus Gallery through Feb. 7.

The exhibition, "Prayers in Paint: The Icons of Sister Eliseea Papaciòc," includes spiritual scenes of The Annunciation, Nativity, Madonna and Child, Mary of the Veil, Peter and Christ Walking on Water, St. Nicholas and the Pantokrator.

Papaciòc, 39, travels to the Tampa Bay area each year to discuss her icons and her faith. Her works are displayed in a few area churches.

The sister follows traditions of iconography, an art that is 2,000 years old.

Her icons are hand-carved and embellished with gold leaf and semiprecious stones or jewels.

"She makes her pigments from flowers, minerals and other organic materials and mixes them with egg yolk to create tempera," Whitelaw said.

She applies the paints with tiny intricate brushstrokes and then varnishes the pieces to protect them.

Though the renowned iconographer leads an uncomplicated life, she speaks three languages fluently and is conversant in five, Whitelaw said.

And she knows her way around a keyboard and mouse.

"She has her own Hotmail account," he said.

if you go

Prayers in Paint

The Icons of Sister Eliseea Papaciòc, an exhibition of seven works on loan from Papaciòc and St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Tampa

Where: Focus Gallery, Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, 600 Klosterman Road, west of U.S. 19, on the Tarpon Springs Campus of St. Petersburg College

When: The exhibition begins Sunday and continues through Feb. 7.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with extended hours until 9 p.m. on Thursday. Open Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Closed Mondays and holidays.

Admission: $5 for adults; $4 for seniors and free to children and students with ID. Sunday is free with docent tours at 1 and 2 p.m.

For more information: Call 727) 712-5762 or visit

Special events

An Afternoon with Sister Eliseea Papaciòc

Sunday at 3 p.m., Sister Eliseea Papaciòc will discuss her calling as an iconographer and the creation of icons as an expression of faith.

Cost: $8 or $5 for museum members.

Icon Workshop

Nov. 13-15, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Artists Sandy Kezar and Judy Longford of Tampa will conduct a workshop on the history, design and creation of traditional icon painting; participants will complete a Christ Pantokrator icon.

Cost: $175 or $150 for museum members.

A study of faith in tiny brushstrokes 10/01/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 1, 2009 5:30pm]
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