Father Jon Buffington, Master Iconographer
Fr. Jon was born in Germany in 1947, an American Army brat – the youngest of three. After much moving, he grew up on the South Carolina/Georgia border. He attended Ohio State, University of Southern California and worked on an MS in Sociology at the University of Utah. After 10 years as an actor and living in San Francisco, he attended the Franciscan School of Theology at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley, California, studying Patristics and Early Church History, earning an MA.
He became involved with a Chaldean Catholic Parish in Turlock, California while at the GTU. After several years of helping in the parish, he was ordained in 1981.
Fr. Jon’s first year of priesthood was as a chaplain at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. He later moved to Detroit as secretary to the new Chaldean Bishop and Chancellor of the new Chaldean Eparchy (diocese). After three and half years he moved back to San Francisco and began an almost 30 years career in hospital chaplaincy. In 1990, Fr. Jon moved to Portland, Oregon to become a Chaplain at Providence Portland Medical Center.
In about 1997, studying books on the subject, Fr Jon began to teach himself Iconography and in 1999 undertook studies with the Iconographic Arts Institute in Mt. Angel, Oregon. In 2007, Fr Jon took a three month sabbatical to study with master iconographers in Florence, Rome, and Siena. In Evian les Bains (France), Fr. Jon studied with Fr. Egon Sendler, SJ. Fr. Sendler is a recognized authority and leading figure in iconography and wrote a seminal, widely sought after book on the subject
In 2009, Fr. Jon completed his sabbatical by spending an additional three months studying the development of the icon in Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Turkey and Greece. He has written numerous icons in various styles, which are now in churches, chapels and in private collections in more than six countries on three continents and in over twenty US states.
In 2012, Fr Jon began teaching at Trinity Iconography Institute at Trinity Cathedral in Portland, where he moved students from the use of the acrylic medium to traditional egg tempera; he was subsequently designated the Institute’s Master Iconographer and continues to teach at the Institute.
Ania Kocurek-Williams, Assistant Iconography Instructor
Ania Kocurek-Williams was born in Poland where she received her education in fine art and art history. Ania’s specialization is in drawing and the underlying placement geometry of icons for the proper portion, scale and creation of original work.
She came to US in 2001 and very shortly after began her studies in iconography at the Iconographic Arts Institute in Mt. Angel, Oregon. In 2006, she became an instructor at this program, where she continues to teach. As a passionate iconographer and teacher of iconography, she welcomed the invitation to join the team at the Trinity Iconography Institute in 2019, with joy. Ania teaches our beginning students.
Ania’s expertise in geometry provided the foundation for translating the prototype icon of the Myrrh Bearing Women by Leonid Ouspensky from its original size to over four feet tall in drawing the icon commissioned in honor of Bishop Diana Akiyama.
A properly drawn icon reflects harmony and balance. In Fall 2021, Trinity Iconography Institute will offer the first in a series of Byzantine Drawing Classes to share Ania’s expertise in Geometry and Byzantine drawing techniques.
Ania writes icons for church communities, individuals and offers private instruction.
Christine Thum Schlesser, Director
Christine is a native Oregonian who spent every other summer with her grandparents in Germany, where her wish each visit was to see churches, castles, and anything ancient and eclectic. Love and preservation of antiquity and appreciation for art only intensified with each visit. The moment she entered the Russian department at Willamette University, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Studies, Russian and German, she was captivated by her professor’s icons, not realizing that icons in the traditional style were still being written in these times. After an executive and then entrepreneurial career with her physician-inventor husband, Christine recently became a student again, pursuing her Masters Degree in Sacred Art with a specialization in Iconography. Christine has been studying traditional egg tempera iconography with Master Iconographer, Fr. Jon Buffington since 2017 at Trinity Iconography Institute, where she now serves as Director. Christine also serves on the Board of Directors of Cappella Romana, a world class sacred choral group dedicated to the preservation and performance of ancient Christian music.
Christine opens her studio on Pete’s Mountain to students for atelier-style projects, paint-ins and specialty classes in the sacred liturgical arts.