Making the Saints Come Alive through Modern Icons
Gracie Morbitzer paints saints like you’ve never seen them before. With each carefully designed icon, she makes the saints come alive in a powerful, relatable way.
“I think what I really wanted to do was just show people that even now you can be a saint,” Gracie shares. “No matter what you’re really passionate about, you can use that thing for bringing goodness and love into the world.”
Meet Gracie: icon painter
(painted images of various saints)
Gracie Morbitzer: You know, the saints were really human and so much more relatable than we ever could realize. Sometimes it’s really hard to do because either it was so long ago or they did such amazing things. So I think just having this way to try and connect people to those stories and to have them look more like them, so that it’s more of a way that they can understand.
Gracie’s icons portray saints in a modern style while preserving their ethnicities.
(Gracie paints saint icon)
It was so fun and exciting to try and figure out — what can I pick out about this saint’s story that reminds me of somebody that I know today? Or if they were living today, what would their lives be the equivalent of in the 2000s?
Trying to figure out what expression they would have based off of the majority of the things that happened to them or a very pivotal moment. Clothing based on whether it seems like they’d be a shyer, more reserved person or a very hardworking, business-type person.
Some of them are just always pictured with certain symbols — John the Baptist with a shell for baptism. So he has a tattoo in my version of the shell. St. Denis was beheaded and kept preaching while carrying his head, which is a very strange story. But for that reason, I put him in a turtleneck, not able to think of any other way to show that that wasn’t disgusting (laughs).
I think what I really wanted to do was just show people that even now you can be a saint, I think whenever we picture saints they’re always in robes.
No matter what you’re really good at or no matter what you’re really passionate about, you can use that thing for your faith and for bringing goodness and love into the world. We’re going to need a saint of computer programming and we’re going to need a saint of lacrosse and basketball. And so if those are the things that you’re good at, then you can use those things also to make the world a better place.
(Pan over of Gracie’s artwork)
My website is just themodernsaints.com, all one word, no spaces. And then I also have prints available on Etsy, which is also just ‘The Modern Saints’ store.