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Robert Gerwing

My name is Robert Gerwing. I am an iconographer and I reside in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  For as long as I can recall, I have been enamored with religious imagery. My first creation occurred at the tender age of five, where I drew both the Last Supper and the Crucifixion.

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This passion for sacred art consumed me and as a young man I entered an Orthodox monastery in Grass Lake Michigan. While there, I studied under the tutelage of Orthodox monks who were trained in Byzantine Iconography. 

This invaluable training fostered within me the ideas of form, style, and symbolic content that are so essential to this venerable tradition. These monks wrote icons in the style of Photios Kontoglou. Kontoglou was credited with restoring the true Byzantine style in the contemporary practice of iconography.

This immersion enabled me to work with and subsequently incorporate the use of traditional methods and materials. Thus, I was able to begin creating icons that were anchored within a rich historical tradition.  I have painted numerous churches around the United States. Many of these were complete interior creations replete with icons placed within all liturgical spaces. Additionally, I and my team executed several large-scale mosaics as well as icons numbering into the thousands.

My journey began as an Orthodox adherent and as with all lives, over time, shifted. I became a practicing Catholic. This has not only deepened my practice as a Christian but has allowed me to once again drink deeply from a well that is both life affirming and sustaining. The famous composer, Gustav Mahler was credited with saying “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but rather the preservation of flame.”  I have been propelled throughout my life to first follow this sacred tradition and now grow in newer, more relevant imagery for our current age. This, by no means comes at the expense of this tradition, but, as a direct result of internalizing the sacred forms of art with all the symbols, contexts, and beauty.

Today, I am blessed with the gift of time to create icons that I know are the exact images we so desperately need in this modern age. To be true to my own life, these images must first draw from the well of tradition while simultaneously feeding us in our own times and in our symbolic needs. It is my fervent belief that sacred images have within them the potentialities of offering healing and comfort to all those in need.

I have been twice fortunate in my life as I not only still practice iconography but am also adjunct faculty at two Universities in Pittsburgh. Initially, I began to teach at the University of Pittsburgh. For the past fifteen years, I have been adjunct professor at Chatham University where I offer courses in architectural history and design. I have thus been able to share the many gifts with which I have been blessed. Currently, I am creating a series of traditional images that may be recast within today’s world. These will hopefully feed the needs of many and speak to people in a language that feeds them today.