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Dr. Natalia Himmirska to deliver April 29 Honors Council lecture

BEMIDJI, Minn. — Dr. Natalia Himmirska, assistant professor of visual arts at Bemidji State University, will present an Honors Council Lecture entitled “From the Tomb to the Cathedral: The Roots and Traditions of Orthodox Icon Painting” on Wedesday, April 29. The lecture, which is free to the public, will be held at 7 p.m. in Hagg-Sauer 112 on the Bemidji State campus.

Himmirska will present on an ancient painting technique called “encaustic,” which marries pigment to hot beeswax and dates to pre-Christian Greco-Roman Egypt. The encaustic medium requires artists to work quickly, since the wax begins to harden the moment it leaves its heat source. The application of heat between layers of brush strokes makes encaustic paintings unique; the heat binds each layer to the one set down before it, creating surface that is effectively one carefully crafted mass.

Encaustic paintings known as “Fayum portraits” were produced of the deceased and placed on their mummy casings. The modeling and depth allowed by encaustic painting gives the Fayum portraits an especially lifelike appearance. Early Christians of the region latched onto the techniques to capture the images of their leaders and saints.

These images, what we now call icons, quickly became a central focus of worship as Orthodox churches began including structures known as “iconostasis” to display iocons before the altar.

Himmirska’s lecture will include a slide presentation examining the evolution of iconographic style.

Himmirska has been with Bemidji State University since 2001, first as an adjunct professor of art and as a full member of the Department of Visual Arts faculty since 2004. She was an adjunct professor of art at Mitchell College in New London, Ct., in 2003-04 and also has been on the art faculties at American University in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria and American College of Sofia, Bulgaria. She holds degrees from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Md., the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Moscow Technological Institute.

Himmirska’s presentation is the final Honors Council lecture of the 2009 spring series.

2009 Spring Honors Lecture Series
* Feb. 11: “Perceptual Experience and Physical Theory,” David Lund
* Feb. 24: “The Road Less Traveled,” Donald Day
* March 24: “Walking Machines: A Short History of Legged, Mechanized Locomotion,” Vincent Vohnout
* April 15: “Don’t Stop Talkin’ ‘Bout Freedom: The Censorship of Rock Music in the 1960s and 1970s,” Michael Taylor
* Apri 29: “From the Tomb to the Cathedral: The Roots and Traditions of Orthodox Icon Painting,” Natalia Himmirska

For more information about the Honors Council Lecture Series, please contact the honors program at (218) 755-3984.

April 29
- 7 p.m. - Bemidji State University Honors Lecture: “From the Tomb to the Cathedral: The Roots and Traditions of Orthodox Icon Painting” presented by Dr. Natalia Himmirska, assistant professor of visual arts at Bemidji State University. Location: Hagg-Sauer 112, Bemidji State campus. Admission: free.

About Bemidji State University Bemidji State University, located in northern Minnesota’s lake district, occupies a wooded campus along the shore of Lake Bemidji. Enrolling more than 5,000 students, the University offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and nine graduate programs encompassing arts, sciences and select professional programs. The University is a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and has a faculty and staff of more than 550. University signature themes include environmental stewardship, civic engagement and global and multi-cultural understanding. For further information about the University, visit Become a fan of Bemidji State University on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.