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Yiannis Frazis, 33, is a Brooklyn-based mosaic iconographer who crafts beautiful Byzantine art piece-by-piece. He is one of just a handful of artists who create Byzantine mosaics in the United States.
With his parents’ encouragement, Frazis was first inspired to pursue his creativity after he witnessed the excavation of an ancient Byzantine church on his home island of Kalymnos. That day he came face-to-face with a damaged mosaic icon. Inspired by the brilliant design it once was, Frazis joined the Archeological Agency of Kalymnos to bring the icon back to life through careful restoration.
Frazis continued working with the Archeological Agency’s excavation teams and began preserving other unearthed relics. By shadowing his mentors at the agency, he eventually engulfed himself in the art of Byzantine mosaics. Frazis pieced together his first mosaic, a mural of Alexander the Great, with no formal training in the art to guide him.
He continued his mosaics after immigrating to the United States more than a decade ago. Mosaics of the Virgin Mary, St. Demetrios, and his original Alexander the Great amongst many others adorn the homes of private collectors in New York, Greece and Australia.
Frazis was commissioned by St. Eleftherios Greek Orthodox Church in New York City to create two mosaics that now hang on the exterior walls of the church. In addition, mosaic icons hang in St. Nicholas Church in Tarpon Springs, FL, and a mosaic cross that has been mounted on the ceiling of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey. He also has been involved in the preservation of icons.
Frazis recently extended his talent to jewelry design. He fashioned a Byzantine-style engolpion (a Bishop’s religious pendant) to have a miniature mosaic interior pieced together with rubies, emeralds and gold. Frazis’ one-of-a-kind engolpion was presented to His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew during his visit to the United States in 2009.