Reliquaries have a long and honored presence in Christian history, beginning at least in the 4th century. Saints’ relics and other sacred items have been housed in these cherished repositories in the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions. Similarly, icons, altars and shrines have played an important role. In my travels in Europe and the Middle East, I have come upon many of these treasures and have been profoundly moved by their powerful place in human history.
This series rests upon both the tradition and form of these historical reliquaries. The marvelous jewels nestled within are miniature reproductions of church treasures from around the world. These exquisite historical items include paintings created by old masters who worked from the 7th century. Works by artists including Bottocelli, Rafael, and Ghirlandaio are represented as well as images from the Book of Kells and other illuminated manuscripts. I have also used images from mosaics found in the world's oldest and richest churches. The reliquary forms themselves are constructed from wood and paper, and I have included a variety of found objects as ornamentation. Some of the reliquaries include candles I purchased in Jerusalem, from a shop located next to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The footed reliquaries are deep shadow box constructions, many of which contain 2-3 layers of images emerging from the rear, and are meant to be displayed on pedestals or other elevated surfaces. The wall reliquaries are also in shadow box form, but do not have the same depth as the footed reliquaries, and are meant to be hung. Also included are a series of rubbings I recently created from a series of brass "traveling" icons from 19th century Russia.