Female Corporeality and Religion 2023

Online Art Exhibition


The Nativity of Christ

Olha Khmilevska


Board, levkas, egg tempera, mineral pigments

Diameter 25 cm





At the upper centre of the composition, we see a segment of heaven, symbolizing the presence of God. The rays of light that come out of it eventually split into three. It is a significant symbolic image of the Triune God, and the star is a symbol of Jesus. The rays of light pierce the darkness of the cave – the darkness into which the personified Divine Light comes and in which it becomes the "Light for the world" (John 8.12).

At the centre of the composition is little baby Jesus whose figure resembles a grain of wheat that is thrown into the depth of the earth and must die in order to bring forth new life (John 12:24). To signify future death the baby Jesus is wrapped in swaddling clothes resembling a burial shroud. The mysterious nature of the Incarnation of God is conveyed by the position of Mary who is not looking at the newborn, because he is the one at whose face the Cherubim and Seraphim cannot look. We also see that Mary is sad because she already knows what awaits her son.


Olha Khmilevska

Khmilevska Olha (b.  1996) is a Ukrainian artist who works in the technique of Ukrainian medieval icon painting. She completed the UCU Certificate Program in Iconography (2015-2018), where she subsequently worked. She took part in visiting programs and plein-airs exhibitions organized by the UCU “Radruzh” Iconography School. Together with “Radruzh” Iconography School employees she created 10 monumental icons for the University church . She is working as an assistant professor & studying in graduate school at the Department of Astrophysics at the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, majoring in Physics and Astronomy.