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Father Andrew Tregubov

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Father Andrew is a man of great talent and greater humility. He's a Russian emigre who became the parish priest at Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Claremont, NH. He's also an accomplished iconographer -- a crafter of icons, the images used in Orthodox worship. 

 
 
 
 
 
 

His primary workspace is in the front room of the rectory. It's a humble thing. The floor is spattered with paint, and bare fluorescent fixtures hang overhead. There are two well-worn art tables, and bookshelves full of reference materials, some in English, some in Russian. Leaning against one wall is a five-by-six-foot canvas stretched out on a board; it bears an unfinished depiction of Jesus holding the Book of Life. It is one of a set of three icons he is making for an Orthodox parish in Little Rock, Arkansas. 

 

The sounds of traffic filter in; the rectory is on one of Claremont's busier streets. It's a decidedly workaday space for someone crafting images of the divine.  

 

Father Andrew carefully hands me a small, thin patch of gold. Real gold, 24 carats. It crumbles into dust between my fingers. Gold leaf is a key component of his palette -- the raw material for the golden halos that adorn holy figures in an icon.  

 

Like the Orthodox Church itself, iconography is an accretion of nearly two thousand years of unbroken tradition. "Just think of all those hundreds and thousands of iconographers," he says, "developing a canon of imagery, of language. Then I take that and add my five cents to it. What comes out is a continuity with tradition." 

 

Iconographers do not sign their work. "The icons are born," not painted, he says. They are something much simpler, and more profound, than art. "They represent a living reality born out of three agents: the Church itself, the faith of the Church, and the iconographer." 

 

Read the rest of Father Andrew's story in my book, including his youth in Soviet Russia, his emigration to the west, and how he breathed new life into a dying parish. 
 
Read excerpts from my interviews with Father Andrew: how he became an Orthodox priest with the help of two Russian emigres, his reflections on his former employer and parishioner Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and his thoughts on iconography.  
 

Contact me at john (at) johnswalters (dot) com