Original: Acrylic on Masonite, 16"x12", 2002.
Collection of the artist. One of the Futurikons series.

This icon is based on a traditional Byzantine prototype called the "Hodigitria," or "She who shows the way." In the design, the Virgin Mary, whom Eastern Orthodox Christians call "Theotokos" or "Mother of God," holds her holy son and points to him with her free hand, thus telling the viewer that Jesus is the "Way, the Truth, and the Life." In OUR LADY OF THE COSMOS, the ancient Hodigitria design is rendered in modern colors, textures, an through all the different size scales and physical substances of the Universe. The border shows the tracks of subatomic particles, the smallest scale. The pale blue background can symbolize blue skies, or perhaps the glow of cosmic background radiation. The cloak of the Virgin Mary, which is traditionally blue in Catholic and Orthodox religious art, is transformed into the colors of Earth from space, the blue of Earth's oceans, skies, and waves, and the mineral blue of lapis lazuli. At the heads of mother and child are two stylized stars, and the glow around the child's blessing hand symbolizes radiant electromagnetic energy. Finally, the holy child is robed in the largest scale, the fabric of space, filled with stars and galaxies. Instead of the traditional scroll, the Child holds a small computer. In Christian theology, God entered into the physical world through his incarnation as a human being. But not only human beings are given the potential for holiness through this event. The entire physical world is full of the presence of God, so that it is not "dead matter" but a manifestation of the beauty and order of God's creation.

© Hannah M.G. Shapero