We’ve all come across icons—intricately painted portraits of saints.
Like stained glass windows, icons were initially intended to be ‘the poor man’s bible’
These, instead, are “n’icons” —short for not-icons.
They’re not icons because they’re not painted in the traditional style or colors.
They’re not of traditional materials.
They’re not representative of a saint.
They’re not to be kissed and venerated.
(There are a lot of rules around traditional icon painters and paintings…
& breaking those rules is…well….heretical.)
Icons have a pristine, smooth-as-bone surface—
33 coats of gesso…before they’re even painted…
N’icons have a rough, prefab/refuse base
(I’m imagining the poor rummaging through these ‘Bibles’
in some tip somewhere).
The base has its own prefab symbolism/sacred imagery
(it doesn’t need to be ‘suffused’ or ‘blessed’ with the sacred).
The base looks industrial—mechanical in color;
The symbols are enhanced with suggestive but not traditional colors.
(As you can imagine, the icon color code is very particular.)
(‘The Saints’: 12 is symbolic of ‘all’—all who are rescued by the cross of Christ.
As Jesus’ followers WE are the saints.)
As art, ‘n’icons’ ‘have no survival value, but’, as CS Lewis put it, they ‘give survival value’.
They symbolize a sacred message
And they symbolize bruised messengers.
(‘Black & Blue—the bruised saints’)
I’m intrigued that bruises bear the colors of the tabernacle—that tent where God almighty touched down in a wild mix of sensual aesthetics designed to his divine specifications:
Mottled badger skin
Red-dyed sheep’s skin
Woven goats hair
Linen curtains-blue, purple, and crimson-with gold clasps
If ever there were colors suggestive of the sacred, it’s these: gold-flecked ‘black & blue’
(We are the saints–the building blocks of the church-
we, along with those who’ve gone before us—many of whom bear bruises—
who’ve staggered in the steps of our rescuer–who was ‘bruised for our sins’.)
‘As in Adam all die…so in Christ will all be made alive.‘ I-IV