Doorways to the Gods
NOTE: This feature was posted on the original Icons of Kemet Blogger blog on Sunday, December 28, 2014.
I always want to emphasize -though I know I sound like a broken record player- that the work I do as a painter is not art for art's sake (though I believe very much in that kind of work as well), nor do I regard myself as an "artist" or "painter."
I call myself an iconographer, and my work icons. Icons are known in many world religions as objects that bring worshipers in contact with the god or gods they adore. An icon is a work of figurative art that has been blessed or consecrated as the repository of holy or sacred energy/ power.
An icon is almost always a focal point for prayer and ritual, and most icons the world over are objects of pilgrimage and veneration. The icons I create are accomplished with all of these concepts first and foremost in mind.
Egyptologists and academics term such images "cult images," that is to say, images that are ritually awakened or "opened" to receive the spiritual essence or power of a god or goddess, and are given offerings and ritual worship via the daily cult.
My icons are crafted for these reasons also. They are ritual objects that are magically activated in order to be possessed by the goddess or god they represent. These are then installed in Shrines or Temples where devotees perform the ritual actions and prayers of the deity's cult.
My icons are not Egyptology/ archaeology art, nor are they simply portrayals of myth, nor are they decorative objects. My works are sacrosanct relics that belong to the Gods, and are to be used in a ritual context only. Outside that context, they have no value, and I would rather they be destroyed.
My goal as a Kemetic polytheist and iconographer is to reintroduce the aims and ideals of the cult image/ icon and the sacred rites that pair with them. Being an iconographer is a very strong part of my practice as a Hem Netjer or Priest of the God Ptah, Whose divine hand is as the artisan of creation.
In ancient Egypt, artisans, and in particular painters/ sculptors were titled Priests of Ptah, or called themselves Priests of Ptah. This is how I feel about my own labors as an iconographer...that my creative life is as a Priest/ sacred artisan of the God Ptah, and that my icons are living bodies of living Gods.
When I am creating an icon I am actually practicing my religion and serving my Gods, giving Them doors through which They can walk into our world. What I create is holy, and I have profound respect for my craft as a deeply religious and spiritual act.