Oksana Prokopenko: Icons and More

30 04 2010

After waiting, planning, working, praying,the much anticipated art exhibit is almost here: my one person art exhibit-

Oksana Prokopenko: Icons and More

– is three weeks away tonight. Here is my gorgeous postcard invitation, if you’d like to receive one – send me an email and I’ll be sure to get one over to you!

Read more here...

Oksana Prokopenko: Icons and More


Memories – Oksana Prokopenko

11 11 2009


The Image Not Made By Human Hand

The Image Not Made By Human Hand




I got this photo yesterday and it brought a wave of emotions and memories. This is the first icon that I made in glass. This is the one that got it all started. I carried this image in my mind for years.
It’s a very strong icon, strength being a spiritual quality primarily, and aesthetic one when it come to icons.

I remember being taken over by something larger than life itself from the very start. The only way to describe the creative process that was happening is to call it mystical: time expanded and stopped, eternity took over, glass seamlessly flowed into place, all the while I existed in a state of profound peace.

When it was done, my husband and other practical voices around me strongly advised me to put a price tag on it and put it out on the market. Instead, again in that same state of peace and quiet, I brought it to a friend’s house-a friend who happened to be an Augustinian priest. His house was filled with monks and nuns that day, something was celebrated when they looked at it, their faces changed and there was quiet in the room. My husband knew what I had known from the start-this was not for sale, neither was is for keeps.

The icon now is the sole image in the office of that priest, who is now the Head of the Augustinian Order of the Eastern Hemisphere, in Villanova, PA. Everyone walking into his office sees it. He told me, ” I sit them in front of it, and leave them for a few minutes alone, and half of their problems go away. ” Those that do not, acquire a different taste, a different perspective.

I sometimes get asked, why did I let that one, the first one go, without even taking a picture? Well, not taking a picture was silly, I agree but letting it go was not. It was an act of reciprocity, what I received – I shared. And in giving it away- I came alive, and continued on creating, or as iconographers say — co-creating.

The icons travel. Sometimes, when there is a place for an icon out there, and in a strange mystical way, spirit (what they call inspiration in the art world) finds an iconographer somewhere and besieges him to create. And create he does, not knowing where the icon will go, not knowing why. But trusting, trusting fully, listening, following on the subtlest of hints, and then letting go.

A Sign Of Times – Oksana Prokopenko

31 03 2009


St Francis         At a recent art show, what was most on view was not art but human anxiety over the current economic situation.  Sales were slim to none. Mood was grim and all talk had to do with bank bail outs. Not your usual happy go lucky opening night.

        It was only natural for  artists showing to get uneasy, if not downright scared.  Those of us with day jobs quietly promised to do a better job so as to keep it safe.  Those of us without- afterall, we make art! at least that’s how the reasoning went for years- well, we entered into a heated discussion of why exactly do we do what we do.  Questions like these seem to generate a lot more fire (and not just smoke) when economy slows, slumping art sales.  So why do we?

        This is where one could potentially write a multi point list of all the various personal, spiritual, societal, cultural, etc  etc etc reasons for making art.  And they were listed, vocally so, then and there at the art show (and elaborated further during the days after). 

        Watching and listening to all this was a much older lady,  a great fan of the gallery, and a supporter of the arts-

-an emotional/psychological supporter which, even these days I would argue, is at least equally as important as all other support. Though the  lack of the latter, in particular financial, support caused the discussion in the first place. 

 She touched my shoulder gently and, addressing all of us, said with deep gentleness in her voice: “Seeing all of your, young people, work – it makes me so happy, thank you!” 

       There was a palpable shift in the mood.  Question answered.

She then leaned into me, and whispered: “ Good choice with St Francis. Good for the times!”  Now, I was happy too. 

The Journey – One Photo At A Time – Oksana Prokopenko

31 10 2008
Annunciation, detail

Annunciation, detail

After a long period of contemplation I am returning to the iconography. Every time I finish a piece (an icon), I think it is my last- I talk of quitting, I go into months-long withdrawal and recharging period. Then I emerge, incredulous, disbelieving, to face a new piece.

So it is right now:

The new icon – Annunciation- has been chosen. It is completed, whole, radiant, on a level just beyond the human eyesight. Now comes the ‘fun’ part- I have to put it into physical reality, piece by piece, shard by shard, prayer by prayer. Yet after taking such a long break I forgot about all the ‘non-fun’ little things that accompany any project. Suddenly, I feel like I fell out of the contemplation cloud to face the harsh reality of little decisions that just seem too hard.

This is where my recent ‘artwork as a baby’ approach seems to come handy. The last icon I worked on, Archangels, I took photos throughout the various stages of the work. It was like taking pictures of an ever changing baby, you know, the first year they seem to change daily. (Granted, Archangels took me almost a year to complete.) And even though we seem to take fewer photos as kids grow older, the pictures become a real treasure some 10-15 years later!

All those photos now serve as a reminder of what the piece (and I) went through, all the ups and downs, decision making. It’s helpful, when in the midst of a new piece, to be reminded that it is a process, and it is about the process. Won’t you say the same is true about life?

Texture- Oksana Prokopenko

30 07 2008



It is the emotional or rather spiritual texture of a human experience that is of primary concern to me. 

I deal in intangibles: soul whispers, light filled vistas, wordless revelations. They inform and guide the tiny shards of glass under my hands into shapes and forms.
How do I translate experiences of deep quiet into glass artwork imbued with the same kind of calm?
I pay attention to every little piece-
the veins of grainy green and blue running through the mostly red glass; the tiny air bubbles trapped under semi-transparent layer of liquidy icy white; the silky mauve coming through and overwhelming the otherwise heavy chocolate sheets of glass just because I cut too narrow of a piece… Then you add light, and more textural details come into view!
Every piece, like every experience – creative and otherwise- has multiple textures to it:
I surrender to the reality that I may not be able to do justice to all of its aspects,
and lose myself in a tiny kingdom of just one piece at a time.

The Creation Process: Divine Tribulations – Oksana Prokopenko

29 06 2008

The Angels knew it was about to happen. I had been swimming for a while now, and, emboldened by the smoothness of the journey, I started to believe I was the one in charge.

Swimming had been a perfect metaphor for life creative. Until I hit a bend in the river, that is. Unable to see what was ahead, gripped by a sudden fear, I tried going against the current. When that failed, I decided to build a house on the river bend. A solid house, for I was convinced that I knew how things ought to proceed. A house on sand it was.

The angels came bearing gifts, gifts a creative could only dream of: new ideas, new images, new ways, a fresh new start.

But my house was closed. I shut the windows and locked the doors. I lowered the blinds so that not a shard of light could get through. I was convinced I could go on doing what I had been doing. I refused to let go of the ways that had worked before. I refused to acknowledge they weren’t working.

The angels camped outside, waiting.

Part of me yearned for them to break through – they would not. Patience and compassion were more their style.

My defenses gave in, I slipped into mourning of ways long gone.

“Let it go, let it go,”- they whispered.

“No, no, no,”- I whispered back.

They proceeded gently.

“Yes,”- eventually answered my soul. I surrendered to their magic, letting go at least for now of control, my idea that I could control!

No, I do not, I control little if anything.

I slowly allowed myself to go with the flow, guided through the up and down of the waves, until the next bend in this river, and another visit from the angels.