Artist creating sacred images in dome of Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church
HOLLADAY, Utah — Members of the Greek Orthodox community in Utah have recently hired an iconographer to create sacred images for the dome of Prophet Elias Church in Holladay.
KSL’s Carole Mikita brings us the exclusive story of an ancient art form.
With each brushstroke, much of it in gold paint, Dionysis Bouloubassis, expresses both his talent and his faith.
Bouloubassis was trained in the art of iconography.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, he was raised in Greece and studied at an art school there.
“Every day, I pray with what I am doing. When I’m working, I feel that somehow, I pray – it’s, I’m gonna say, it’s a part of my work,” he said.
The art of creating Christian icons dates back to the Byzantine and Orthodox tradition, as early as the third century.
They are meant to be beautiful, eye-catching representations of Diety, apostles, prophets and holy women.
Father Patrick O’Rourke is the assistant priest at Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church.
A year ago, he met with the Church Beautification Committee to discuss new artwork for the dome in the sanctuary. He discovered that they had enough money to pay for a stunning transformation.
“The building itself preaches the Gospel. It tells us the story — when we’re here, we’re in Heaven on earth. We are in a Heaven made from the earth, which is our understanding of what Christ came and did for us — that He sanctified us by His presence.”
In order to create new art for the dome, Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church has been closed for two months, the pews moved and covered to protect them from dust, and the floor taken over by scaffolding.
Over the weeks, the artist has painstakingly revealed his vision.
Bouloubassis does his work — well, think of Michaelangelo — suspended some 70 feet on plywood that often moves when he does.
To get that high in the air, you ride on a scissors lift, and then climb through a small opening. And through that small opening, even from the sanctuary floor, you can see a stunning image — just a peak at treasures to come.
Rarely is anyone this close to the sacred art in the dome of a Greek Orthodox Church, aside from the artist, but KSL photographer Derek Petersen and KSL arts and religion reporter Carole Mikita traveled up to that dome to witness it for themselves.
Once the scaffolding is removed, the site from the sanctuary floor is stunning.
The artist hopes to inspire.
“I feel and I hope if what I am doing helps some people come to the Church. What they read, what they pray, they can also see in the work. They can see the life of Christ,” Bouloubassis said.
Father Patrick hopes the icons represent more than beautiful art. These sacred images are meant to connect faith through the ages.
“When people look up to the dome that has been empty for almost 20 years, they’ll see the face of God, they’ll see the face of Christ — and that encounter brings them closer to their own faith, to their own purposes, to the grace of God,” he said.
Parishioners of Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church will return to worship services Sunday, Feb. 6, to see and celebrate this beautiful artwork.
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