Orthodox Liturgical Artists Discuss Integrating Influences from East and West in Creating Sacred Art


The Institute of Sacred Arts (ISA) at St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVOTS) hosted a panel discussion entitled Sacred Arts East and West: A Conversation with Aidan Hart, Jonathan Pageau, and Andrew Gould, on Monday, April 24, 2023, at 7:30 p.m. in the Metropolitan Philip Auditorium on campus. The event was attended in person by many seminarians and community members; more than 600 people registered to attend the event via Zoom live-stream.


ISA founding director and SVOTS Professor of Systematic Theology Dr Peter Bouteneff and Associate Professor of Art History Dr Rossitza Schroeder moderated the discussion. The moderators challenged each panelist to present his own work and approach to liturgical art from the lens of cultural adaptation and bridge-building, asking:

How do liturgical artists in the West honor their cultural heritage while adapting it to Orthodox worship in their own contexts? 

And how does this experience of building bridges between artistic and religious traditions offer perspective on the state of art and culture in the modern world?


Andrew Gould, a designer of liturgical buildings and objects, described his efforts to design churches that appeal to the churchgoers in the American communities where he does his work, by drawing on local history, culture, ethos, and building materials. Architectural elements such as columns fashioned from Southern pine, or walls featuring both wood paneling and frescoes are chosen to help create a liturgical environment that fits into an American cultural aesthetic, increasing the likelihood that local inquirers will feel at home worshiping in the Orthodox Church. 


Gould also touched on the work he and his fellow panelists have done to promote excellence in contemporary liturgical art in the Orthodox Arts Journal, speaking about the need for quality Orthodox art that appeals both to cosmopolitan, areligious people and to those from religious backgrounds favoring more emotionally charged, “sweet” religious images, while remaining true to Church tradition.

Following Andrew Gould’s presentation, icon carver, public speaker, and prominent YouTuber Jonathan Pageau related his own endeavors to create religious objects that feel authentic within Western cultural contexts, but that are faithful to established Orthodox Tradition in their symbolism. Pageau encouraged Orthodox artists to think carefully and ask for feedback when incorporating distinct cultural elements into their work, to avoid evoking a sense of “pastiche” or disjointedness. He compared and contrasted several of his own works to demonstrate a nuanced integration of Scandinavian, Romanesque, Celtic, and Byzantine artistic influences.


The final panelist presentation came from Aidan Hart, iconographer and prolific liturgical artisan in a wide range of artistic media. Showing examples of his iconography and artwork in churches in the United Kingdom, Hart explored the localized themes he strives to incorporate into his work, highlighting Western Orthodox saints, ornamental depictions of the local flora and fauna, and architectural elements reflecting the traditional buildings in the surrounding area.


A lively Q&A session followed the panelists’ presentations, with questions and comments taken from online and in-person participants, including iconographer Fr Silouan Justiniano, Orthodox Arts Journal editor and featured author and member of the Brotherhood of the Holy Cross (ROCOR) in Long Island, NY. The entire discussion was recorded live and is now available to watch on the SVOTS YouTube channel.

Watch recording

About the Institute of Sacred Arts

The Institute of Sacred Arts at St Vladimir’s Seminary promotes and explores the arts with a view to theology, history, and liturgy. It produces public events and publications, and is now accepting applications for a two-year Master of Arts program in Orthodox Christian Theology with a Concentration in Sacred Arts


About the Panelists

Jonathan Pageau

Jonathan Pageau

Jonathan graduated with distinction from the Painting and Drawing program at Concordia University in Montreal during the late 1990s. Quickly disillusioned with contemporary art, he discovered icons and traditional Christian images along his own spiritual journey. Rekindling his love of art through the study of traditional forms, Jonathan developed a passion for wood carving. Having studied Orthodox Theology and Iconology at the University of Sherbrooke, since 2003 Jonathan has been carving different types of liturgical objects. His carvings have been commissioned by churches, bishops, priests, and laypeople in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. He has participated in several exhibitions of icons and teaches icon carving with Hexaemeron Ecclesial Arts. Jonathan is also a respected voice in the English-speaking Orthodox world, contributing to the Orthodox Arts Journal as a writer and editor, and producing popular online videos about Christian symbolism in all its forms. His YouTube channel has 177,000 subscribers.

Andrew Gould

Andrew Gould

Andrew is an artisan and designer specializing in traditional buildings and liturgical art. He studied art history at Tufts University and University College London and earned a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He started practicing in Charleston in 2004, apprenticing with designer/builder George Holt, with whom he still collaborates from time to time.

Andrew has designed dozens of new buildings, renovations, and custom liturgical furnishings. When designing churches and liturgical art, Andrew works in the Eastern Orthodox traditions (Byzantine and Russian), and his work can be found throughout North America and beyond.

His company, New World Byzantine, is recognized as a leader in traditional design and urbanism. In 2011, Andrew founded New World Byzantine Studios, a liturgical supply company and artists cooperative for the manufacture and sale of traditional Orthodox arts. He is also the founder of the Orthodox Arts Journal, a publication that covers visual arts, music, liturgical ceremony and texts, and relevant art history and theory, with contributions from a host of contemporary Orthodox artists and scholars.

Aidan Hart


Aidan Hart, a member of the Greek Orthodox Church living in Britain, has been a full-time liturgical artist for over thirty-five years. His passion is to create works and church interiors that reflect something of the beauty of life in Christ and help people experience that union of heaven and earth that is the ultimate purpose of liturgical art. Aidan and his team work in a wide variety of media, including egg tempera for panel icons, stone and wood carving, mosaic, wall painting, and church furnishings. He has worked in over twenty-five countries of the world, commissioned by Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Anglican cathedrals, monasteries, and individuals.