By Barbara Fraser
May 21, 2021
The panther’s greenish eyes, staring directly at the viewer, are hypnotic. Caught in a moment of calm, etched against a golden background, it seems to be waiting. But this is no ordinary painting.
The Florida panther is an icon, part of a series of endangered species depicted by New York artist Angela Manno in the style of traditional Byzantine icons. A frog, an orchid, an orangutan mother and child, a wolf, a fish — 14 in all. They are art. And they are prayer.
They also reflect Manno’s own spiritual journey, from the Catholicism of her childhood to the ecotheology of the late Passionist Fr. Thomas Berry, passing through a Quaker school, a Jesuit university, and Carmelite and Buddhist monasteries.