Here is a fascinating article that's a few years old but still as relevant as ever. A March 2000 piece from The New York Times, "A Calling of Faith and Art in A Russian Church" centers upon, among other things, icon art. Read a snippet below or jump directly to the article in full by clicking here.
Every church needs a good priest. But an artist, it turned out, was what this church needed most.
In Father Andrei, 43, intense, balding and bushy-bearded, it got both. He grew up in Moscow. His father was a philosopher and author. But from the very start, the son was an uncommonly talented painter.
''For me, it's just a part of my biography,'' Father Andrei said during a long conversation over tea in a spare, white-walled studio next to the church. ''If I were not given a chance to paint, I would probably die.''
But while most artists his age honed their talents on bowls of fruit or portraits, he was somehow drawn to paint religious icons: saints, Madonnas, crucifixions, resurrections -- all on wooden panels, just as in medieval times.
These were not just knockoffs. For the young Andrei, icon art became an almost transcendental obsession.
''It turned out to be so interesting that I realized that I needed nothing else,'' he said. ''This is a way of depicting in human terms the secrets of God's kingdom.