St. Petersburg, FL- Andrei Protsouk has been busy this fall/winter season working with St. Andrew’s Church on an integrative project to revitalize their parish in St. Petersburg, Florida. St. Andrew’s is one of two Eastern Orthodox Churches in the state of Florida. The parish has expanded and moved to a new location in the St. Petersburg/Tampa area trying to outreach to a larger Russian Orthodox following. In part of the construction of a new parish the church commissioned Andrei Protsouk to create new icons for their efforts to reposition the church in the new area. Father Igor, pastor of St. Andrew’s, views Andrei’s iconography symbolically to the new location and sees his talents as growth and a new direction, not only for their members but to the Russian community living in Florida. His hopes are that people come to St. Andrew’s not only to pray but also admire its beauty and its icons. St. Andrew’s hopes this revitalization project brings a larger following, a stronger Russian community in the area and a stronger patronage to Orthodoxy.
Protsouk has been working closely, since late summer and early fall, with Pastor Igor on his passionate vision of the new Parrish. Infused with Andrei’s classical fine art talents and knowledge of Russian Orthodox iconography, Protsouk had created five new icons for St. Andrew’s. This isn’t the fist project Andrei had worked on for an Orthodox church. In 1995-1996 Andrei renovated and restored the whole iconostas, a wall of icons in front of the alter where members face, as well as other icons in the St. Michael’s Church in Jermyn, PA. Although this project was different and the icons previously painted undermined his creativity, the project at St. Andrew’s was a blank canvas. Protsouk is nearing 50 years of age and is a much more matured artist in terms of style and significance in the art world was able to instill the biblical images from his own imagination and inspiration from his past education. The St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts has a heavily classical inspired art education curriculum and taught Andrei about the various icon-painting schools throughout Russia, their history and significance, the various icon painters and their various periods and styles. Andrei reflects on this, “I think that what was most inspiring to me about icon painting was the movie Andrei Rublev, by Andrei Tarkovsky. It is truly one of my favorite movies and a realistic depiction of a ‘true artist.’”
In St. Andrew’s Andrei was able to aspire to his inspiration, his influence and captivate his style, his lines and the feelings of past icon masters especially that of Andrei's favorite icon school in Novgorod, one of the most traditional icon schools in Russia. When one carries his eyes from the “Nativity” scene to Alexander Nevsky’s stern expression or Andrei Stratilat’s armor, one will be able to see how Andrei’s strokes resemble his other paintings with the nuances of his lines. His vibrant color choices and dramatic facial expressions of Joseph, Mary and Jesus are brought to life at St. Andrew’s not only for their own Parrish but for all of Orthodoxy and everyone to see.
by Dennis Protsouk
by Dennis Protsouk