Delphia Dirks icon “Our Lady of the Sign” hangs on the door of the Aumbry in St. George’s Episcopal Church

Delphia Dirk
Rev. Shearon Sykes Williams and resident Delphia Dirks pictured in front of her “Our Lady of the Sign” project.

by Almeda Girod
Resident Writer

Delphia Dirks grew up in a farming community in Wall, South Dakota, the youngest of six siblings (all of whom are still living and active). She remembers “copy drawing” cartoon characters as a child, leading to a lifelong interest in art.

She graduated from South Dakota State College with a degree in home economics. After a year of teaching, she worked with the State 4-H programs in SD. This led to her meeting county agent, Harlan Dirks. After their marriage, Harlan continued his education which included a PhD at the University of Minnesota. Thereafter the family moved to DC where Harlan joined the Foreign Agriculture Service. It was during an assignment to the Soviet Union in the early 80s that Delphia became interested in the sacred art in Russian Orthodox Churches and was able to study this unique art style with a local artist. This followed with workshops stateside and hours of practice and in creating sacred icons. There were later exhibitions and commissions. Her artwork then focused exclusively on iconography, a perfect combination of this ancient art and spiritual devotion. She has made icon study tours to Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Yugoslavia, and Italy.

One of Delphia’s largest works (10 x13 ft.) is located in St. Hugh’s Catholic Church in Beltsville, Md. Others are in several Catholic Churches throughout the DC area. She also won a prize for a miniature of the Prophet David at the International Miniatures show held annually at nearby Strathmore.

Delphia met Riderwood resident, Dave Williams, in Riderwood’s wood shop where she does work on her projects. This led to a January 22nd dedication of an icon titled “Our Lady of the Sign” for the door of the Aumbry in St. George’s Episcopal Church in Arlington, VA, where Dave’s daughter in law, Rev. Shearon Sykes Williams, is rector. This icon shows Mary with raised hands in the prayerful position and Jesus in a mandorla holding the symbols of the
Eucharist.

Harlan (recently deceased) and Delphia moved from Friendship Heights, Md to Calvert
Landing in 2013. They have two children. Their enclosed balcony serves as a lovely space for Delphia to continue to “create”.

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