Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Abp. Dmitri Memorial Chapel in Dallas

I'll be in Dallas in September and hope to visit the cathedral while I'm there. I've been tracking this project since the initial planning and financing stage. It's wonderful that the same iconographer who did the initial iconography was able to do this important work as well. Three cheers for continuity and another one for Mr. Grygorenko's professionalism.

(OAJ) - The Archbishop Dmitri Memorial Chapel is an ongoing project at St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas, Texas. It is especially interesting as it is a chapel designed to honor the earthly remains of the locally venerated archbishop. We are pleased to offer this interview with master iconographer Vladimir Grygorenko, who designed and painted the chapel.

A. Gould: How did the idea for a memorial chapel come about?

V. Grygorenko: It was obvious to everyone at St. Seraphim Cathedral that Archbishop +Dmitri should be buried near the church that he founded in 1954. Unfortunately, the city code allows such burials only under the foundation of pre-existing church buildings. Since St. Seraphim was built upon a number of piers, and it was impossible to fit an underground burial chamber between them, the idea to build a chapel adjacent to the cathedral was the first that came to my mind. We started to develop a plan right after his departure… Because it was impossible to build anything before his burial, it had been decided that Vladika’s earthly remains would temporarily stay at Restland Cemetery.

A. Gould: How much role did you have in designing the structure of the chapel? What were you trying to achieve, artistically, with this simple barrel-vaulted form?

V. Grygorenko: In this project, God blessed me with the wonderful opportunity to do almost everything: from the architectural design and construction supervision to the murals and iconography. I made the first sketch at the memorial supper, a few hours after Vladika’s burial. Metropolitan Jonah blessed it right away. The final design of a much bigger memorial complex, including a chapel and bell tower, was completed in 2013, together with Mr. Nick Unich, ASA.

I had several problems to solve. First, the exterior of the new addition should match the existing cathedral, which resembles Russian church architecture. Second, the interior of this rather small space should allow for a close and intimate relationship with the services, which will be conducted there, and with the Archbishop himself, who will be buried there someday.

I think the chapel’s form with barrel vault fits here perfectly. Designing the chapel, I have always kept in mind the murals which I would eventually put on its walls and ceiling. I cannot say that whole composition was developed in detail from the beginning. In fact I have changed it several times during the process, but the main idea, “The Last Judgment” scene remained intact.

There were also a few technical difficulties, such as the fire-lane setback for example, which were limiting my choice of solutions, but in general, I am satisfied with the result. With this addition we have enlarged St. Seraphim by about 30% of its size...
Complete article here.

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