Caroline Furlong

St Augustine of Hippo

Artist Statement: I painted this original icon for St Augustine of Hippo Episcopal Church in Galveston Texas after the city of Galveston was devastated by a hurricane in 2008. The historic church, which was established in 1876 as the first church in the diocese of Texas founded by and for African American congregants, was miraculously saved from destruction.

St. Augustine, one of the great Church Fathers of the fourth century, was a man of color, and in this icon, St Augustine stands on Galveston Island, holding a likeness of the Church of St Augustine of Hippo in his hand.

bio: Iconographer Caroline Furlong has ventured in her art career from realistic to abstract styles, finally evolving into a liturgical artist and painter of icons. “I found that, for me, art doesn’t have to be a reproduction of something that can be photographed, but is more of a quest for the truth behind the object. I began looking for ways to express mystery -- not the ‘Agatha Christie’ kind, but the ineffable kind. I tried to find a visual language that would allow me to communicate that mystery," says Furlong. She turned to well known symbols that are widely understood in the Christian Church in an attempt to avoid creating completely subjective art. “Just as we use words that are well understood to tell a story, there is value in using and reinterpreting ancient pictorial symbols to communicate universal truth. Rather than limiting the artist, it fosters a living tradition that unfolds for each new generation, bridging past and future,” she says.
Her icons are written using egg tempera, a traditional medium of iconographers for more than a thousand years. It involves making the paint by grinding natural pigments to a fine powder and mixing them with egg yolk, to make an extremely durable paint film. Furlong enjoys the craft and the chemistry of this ancient medium.

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