Divinely inspired art

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Aleona Isakova grew up in Tver, Russia, in a family of atheists. There were no Bibles. There was no way for her to attend church.
In 1991, American missionaries came to Russia and introduced her to Jesus. She said this interaction "filled an empty place in my heart when they spoke of God, and brought light to a dark place."
As new Christians, Isakova and her husband started their own "church" in their home, sharing prayer and reading the Bible with friends. The group outgrew that and rented space in a public library, and later, were able to open a church. Her husband became a pastor of this new congregation.
During a sermon at a conference in Moscow for pastors and their wives, Isakova realized how she could share God's glory through a line of haute couture or high fashion gowns.
Isakova believes God showed her a vision of "the entire Bible story through fashion. I saw the Creation, Jesus' birth, the Beatitudes, Crucifixion and Resurrection all unfold in front of my eyes - and all created in the most beautiful fabrics I had never seen before," she said. "It was like a movie playing."
Isakova's artistic style of almost faceless figures dressed in gowns exquisitely drawn with thin black pen strokes and vivid watercolors is a mix of many styles of art she loves - and as a fashion designer, "gowns are my language."
"I don't draw faces, because it is my soul, or your soul. It isn't just a dress, it is something spiritual," she said.
Over the course of 30 days, Isakova drew 22 inspirational sketches of what she says God had shown her. After another four years of work, "The Olive Tree in the Garden of God" became a collection of 52 gowns.
This collection was accomplished through hard work, prayer and for a single purpose - "to glorify the Lord before all nations."
"(The collection is) not for sale, not for commercial (use), not for human glory. It is for Him only," said Isakova. "It is a unique collection because it was created through prayer and God's vision, and the money to create it came from prayer as well."
After the success of her first Bible-based collection, Isakova read the Song of Songs (or the Song of Solomon) from the Old Testament and said she had another vision. She believes God once again provided her the details of how the Bible story should be illustrated. She spent two years working on the drawings that describe the collection of love lyrics that tell a dramatic tale of mutual desire and courtship - all detailed on the gowns the figures wear.
These illustrations can be seen, and prints can be purchased, at Trinity House Café in Leesburg, where Isakova is a regular customer. She is the sixth artist to display her work there.
"The café is such a special place and full of God's presence, and it is so real," said Isakova.
She approached Ever Johnson, executive director of the John Paul II Fellowship, the nonprofit owner of Trinity House Café, about exhibiting her work at the restaurant in the heart of historic Leesburg.
The restaurant does more than just feed customer's bodies; they try to feed their souls by "offering a place to experience culture, art, beauty and philosophy in a comfortable setting," said Johnson.
"The Holy Spirit touched her in a breathtaking way, and she has co-created the most captivating images of love and beauty, which are at their height in her watercolor series that illustrates Song of Songs," said Johnson. "We've been so blessed by her presence and her testimony in our little community. I hope everyone can come out and take in the power of such a witness."

Rausch can be reached at srausch@catholicherald.com.

If you go

Trinity House Café
101 East Market St., Leesburg, VA 20176.
Hours: Sun.-Mon. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tue.-Sat. 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
"Divine Inspirations" is on display through Feb. 28.

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016