One hand is brown felt, one is blue; the face of Christ, three feet wide and featureless, is a vibrant turquoise.

Yet there is no mistaking that the brilliant patchwork of panels, created by Washington fiber artist Kathy Kapikian for the conference of United Presbyterian Women at Purdue University this week, depicts Leonardo da Vinci's "Last Supper."

Kapikian's brilliantly colored work, stretching 20 feet by 60 feet across the university's massive Music Hall stage, is an interpretation, rather than a copy, of da Vinci's painting. The figures of Christ and His apostles are rendered in brilliantly colored wool felt, stitched to canvas backing.

The overall effect is more like stained glass than a finely detailed painting. It was created in 25 separate panels 2 1/2 to 3 feet wide, each panel hung separately but synchronized to create one continuous design.

When she agreed to create a work of art that would highlight the theme of the Presbyterian group's conference, "A Visible Sign," the only specification was that it incorporate the concept of the eucharist.

"It took maybe six weeks after I'd accepted the commission before the idea of da Vinci's 'Last Supper' came to mind," Kapikian said earlier this summer as she and her assistant, Caryl Hancock, put the finishing touches on the work.

What the Presbyterian leaders asked for, she said, was a work that portrayed "the idea that we are bread in the hands of God . . . that we receive bread from the hand of God for the world."

Kapikian, who is artist-in-residence at Wesley Theological Seminary, "struggled a long time and made hundreds of drawings of those da Vinci heads, those faces" to get a design she was satisfied would work in fabric.

"I knew it was going to be viewed by 6,000 people" attending the conference, she said "I felt a responsibility not to deviate into abstract symbols that would be meaningful for me" but that might be disruptive to less sophisticated viewers.

Kapikian has not seen her completed work hanging in Purdue. After laying out the panels in a Reston church last month to make sure they were properly aligned, she and Hancock packed them up with explicit instructions to the Music Hall's stage crew that hung them before the conference opened Wednesday.

Reports from the conference indicate a mixed but generally favorable reception.

"A couple of people said it disturbed them, especially the colors," said a conference spokeswoman.

But there were so many requests for photographs of the patchwork that conference leaders had to set aside time for pictures to be taken, and "many, many, many people came out with their cameras," she added