I grieved the loss of a mentor, my teacher, my friend, Master Iconographer, Ksenia Mikhailovna Pokrovsky Born: March 1942 – Died: June 7, 2013
It wasn’t long after I met her that we were fast friends. It was a life experience not for the faint of heart, she was strong, strict, brilliant and at the same time gentile. When I spent time alone with her in her studio, I would think to my self, she is so wise, why am I here? My thoughts continued, it’s a God-given gift, a rare opportunity. The beauty, fruit and time in that relationship is what propelled me. What I received from this gift was a remarkable experience, that changed my life forever. The experiences are memories now, no doubt, no other can experience them but, they stay inside my continued work as an iconographer. Writing about her now makes me smile, as I remember the long hours of discussions over tea, intellectual, deep, and full. Its was truly an honor to be in her presence. She never made me feel separated, unimportant, and unable to comprehend the icon. She just filled me with knowledge and like a sponge, I absorbed every drop of teaching she bestowed upon me.
When Ksenia died we were separated by a harsh reality. I was filled with grief, transparency, vulnerability, and complete, utter emptiness. No one personally taught me in the same way. Ksenia always said; ” We Orthodox Christians are like vessels waiting, to be filled by Christs love”. As far as she was concerned we were in union, as fellow icon painters. I could never carry out what she had accomplished in her life but, no matter we were at that moment, their together.
When the union ended I realized, there is a natural separation that takes place before hand organically that is helping us to deal with the final outcome of life. This unspoken phenomenon took me by surprise and before it becomes clear, pushed away. When the person has partaken in a role that has helped transformed you comprehensively, its difficult to let go, but, I saw its reasoning, a way of survival, like a Mother bird that pushes its baby out of the nest for the first flight. We get pushed gently, lovingly toward independence into the great, scary, unknown. When we take flight realizing that with only practice we can survive, alone in this time I knew the task of the relationship was over, and surprising to me that; I am surviving even while in pain.
My lesson is finished, it is up to me now what I do with the work. Truly without this relationship I would have nothing, but now I have everything and continue to be a place keeper, and continue on as an example. Being one of her students, imparted a richness in me that will never be taken or forgotten. Master to student relationship can only be brought to us by grace. I can never be as great as she, but I continuing working, moving ahead with my place keeping, into other relationships, and planting seeds which will eventually bear fruit. Passing work tradition on, in a different way, in a way that is hers and mine.
I have lost a friend, a mentor with no time for goodbyes. We are forever changed by our loss with survival.