Former landscape architect in Bulgaria, Tatiana Nikolova-Houston followed a Christian-theological path in the United States, culminating with an M.L.I.S. from the University of Texas at Austin. During her doctoral study, she focused on the history and preservation of medieval manuscripts, and thus wrote a dissertation on the historical marginalia (marginal notes in Orthodox Christian scripts) inscribed during the Ottoman rule of Bulgaria (1393-1878), which she has proved to reveal “the secret history” of the Balkans. Since 2008, she has been re-creating and re-interpreting Byzantine and South Slavic iconography and manuscript illuminations, in her Sacred Illuminations, to be presented at Antika Festival 2018.
“Since 2009, “Sacred Illuminations” has participated in 56 juried shows, including 21 juried solo gallery exhibits, and 45 festivals, bazaars, and fairs, in Texas, New York, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Holland, and Bulgaria. “Tree of Life – Holy Spirit” has been published in Christian Century, L–Magazine, Behold. Kamerkoor Kwintesens used my “Tree of Life – Infinity” for its production of Arvo Part’s Adam Lament in the Hague, Holland. “Tree of Life – Eyes and Hands” served as a book cover for Peter Traben Haas’ Beautiful Prayer. The catalog includes more than 300 titles.”
“I was born in Bulgaria in 1961. My father, a self-taught artist and theatre director, inspired my love of the arts. I studied Landscape Architecture and designed parks, rich in color, flowers, and spaces for recreation and meditation. In 1990, I came to America, married, and received Master’s degrees in Religious Studies and Library and Information Science, studying and preserving South Slavic (Bulgarian) medieval manuscripts. My doctoral study revealed “the secret history” of the Balkans during the Ottoman rule (1393-1878) by studying manuscript marginal notes.
“After graduation in 2008, I started to re-create and re-interpret Byzantine and South Slavic iconography and manuscript illuminations, and to educate Western audiences about the simple and meaningful illuminations of Slavic scribes by using gold and metallic inks and acrylic paints, embellished by Swarovski crystals. The illuminations reflect the joy of spirituality, emphasizing the themes of the Light within and without and the Tree of Life as major inspiration.”