Publisher: William R. Parks http://www.wrparks.com
BISAC: Religion / Christian Church / History
This biography contains illustrations of icon artwork by Shirley Stella Kontos 1949 -1991: America's first female iconographer.
Shirley Stella Kontos was born on December 14, 1949, in Chicago, to Greek Immigrant parents. She displayed artistic talent from a young age. In High School her artistic talents blossomed and were acknowledged by her teachers. Accepted to the University of Chicago and its prestigious affiliate, The Art Institute of Chicago, Shirley earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree with a Major in Painting and a Minor in Art History. Subsequently, she was accepted to Northwestern University on an Art Department teaching scholarship. Majoring in Art Criticism and Painting and minoring in Sculpture and Ceramics she earned a Master of Fine Arts Degree.
Exhibitions of her artwork at Northwestern University brought her widespread attention and an invitation to a One Woman Show at the Whitney Museum in NY. A series of mysterious occurrences and a spiritual encounter led her not to the Whitney Museum, but on the journey to become an Iconographer. On this journey, she confronted the prejudice and bias of a male-dominated field. Shirley triumphed despite these challenges and her Iconography brought her critical acclaim in the Church.
In 1986, Shirley was officially bestowed the title of Iconographer by the leader of Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, the late Archbishop Iakovos. Her crowning achievement was the painting of the Patriarchal Icons for the visit of the late Patriarch Dimitrios, the worldwide leader of Orthodox Christianity, to Chicago. This endeavor earned her major television and press coverage with front page coverage in the Chicago Sun-Times. Following the Patriarchal visit, Shirley’s health declined. She succumbed to cancer in February 1991, and a prolific Iconographic calling came to its conclusion at the age of 41.
In her Iconography, described as “Windows to Heaven”, she always endeavored to inspire those around her to rise above earthly trials and tribulations and strive for the heavens on their spiritual journey.
The author, Georget Kontos Photos, is a native of Chicago, and sister of the late Shirley S. Kontos. Born to Greek immigrant parents, she was raised in the Greek Orthodox Church. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago and earned a Bachelor of Science in Geography, with a concentration in Environmental and Cultural Studies. Georget is the author of a series of craft books for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Department of Religious Education entitled “Let Us Live Orthodoxy” Volumes 1 – 6. In conjunction with these books, she was featured speaker at the Religious Education Workshop for the Diocese of Boston. She has written articles for Praxis Magazine, the quarterly publication of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Department of Religious Education, and Diakonia Magazine the Diocese of Atlanta Publication, and has authored numerous blogs for the Diocese of Atlanta Family Life Ministry website.
Father is a native Chicagoan, who from a young age, has been an active participant in the Greek Orthodox Church. He graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a B.A. Degree in Youth Work and from National Louis University with a M.S. Degree in Adult and Continuing Education. His aspirations to study for the Priesthood brought him to Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA. He graduated with a Master of Divinity Degree in 1991. He was ordained a Deacon in 1994. In 1995 he was ordained to the Priesthood. Father subsequently, has served Parishes in IL, FL, and NJ. Together with Georget, he has been Co-Instructor of Church Crafts for the Religious Educator’s Seminar at Holy Cross Seminary and Co-Presenter with her at the Diocese of Atlanta Clergy Laity Assembly Workshop on Orthodox Christian Identity. Father and Georget reside in Vineland, NJ. He serves as the Pastor of St. Anthony Greek Orthodox Church.