Meet Angela Manno
Angela Manno is an award-winning artist based in New York City. Her mediums include encaustic, oils, textile, pastel, as well as egg tempera and gold leaf on wood in creating traditional and contemporary iconography.
A graduate of Bard College, Manno studied art at the San Francisco Art Institute, Parsons School of Design, and l'Ecole des Arts in Lacoste, France. She trained with the contemporary master of batik, Jyotirindra Roy, and studied the ancient liturgical art of Byzantine-Russian iconography with master iconographer, Vladislav Andrejev.
Her major solo exhibition, Conscious Evolution: The World At One, toured internationally and was seen by more than a quarter of a million people. With the support of private and corporate sponsors—including actor Tom Hanks, AXA Space, and Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia—the artwork featured in the exhibition became part of the permanent fine art collection of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum.
Her work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions at distinguished venues, including: the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C, the Smithsonian Institution, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and other museums around the world. Her work is part of the permanent NASA space art collection at the Kennedy Space Center, and is held in private collections throughout the U.S. and abroad. Her plein air landscapes are collected around the world and are featured in the French documentary film Voyage au Pays des Lavandes (Journey to Lavender Country).
Her current series of work, Endangered Species, applies her iconography training to a contemporary exploration of environmental crisis and extinction.
“It is clear that the Western mind is divorced from Nature, the primary condition that has lead to the current ecological catastrophe. I feel that the only way back, indeed our own survival, depends on nothing less than a re-enchantment with the Earth as a living reality.”
Tell us about your art and inspiration.
My current art project, Sacred Icons of Threatened and Endangered Species, stems from my decades-long study and practice of traditional Byzantine-Russian iconography. Not long into the practice, my background in ecology, cosmology and evolution demanded that I expand the canon of images beyond angels and saints where nature is relegated to the backdrop for the human-divine drama. Given the dire state of our natural environment — our larger self — I felt the need to portray other than human beings in this traditionally religious form, to emphasize their intrinsic value and evoke a sense of the sacred in all living things.
My art process is done according to the method and materials of traditional iconography, which is a contemplative and highly symbolic process: Beginning with a wooden board, the panel is covered with 13 layers of gesso. Liquid clay is then laid down as the base for the 23k gold leaf that will be applied over it. This combination of clay (representing our physical dimension) with pure gold (representing the divine) symbolizes the inseparable relationship between matter and spirit. My medium is the ancient painting technique of egg tempera; an egg yolk is prepared in an emulsion that is then used to mix the colors which are made up of earth pigments and ground up semi-precious stones. Each piece is 7” x 9” x 1”.
When choosing my subjects I attempt to have a balance of all nature's categories: plant, bird, fish, mammal, reptile, amphibian, insect and other invertebrates. I also envision how they will look when on display together. The series is continually growing. My intent is to have enough for a wall of icons, an iconostasis in Greek, similar to that used in the Orthodox Church and liturgy. As I regard contemplation and action as inseparable, I also donate 50% from the sale of my art to conservation organizations such as The Center for Biological Diversity, who work tirelessly to save vulnerable species from the brink of extinction. I am also a life-long activist, having worked in the anti-fracking movement and ridding pristine wilderness and densely populated areas of military intrusion.