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The Arts: Divine Insights From the Art of Sisters

By Karen Conlin, SNJM

With "The Arts" being our focus this month, it seems timely to recall our Diamond Jubilee celebration in Spokane, WA.

The 60th jubilee of Sister Joan Christine Von Bank, the 70th of Sister Katherine Gray and the 75th of Sister Paula Mary Turnbull was a celebration not only of their vowed commitment, but also of the joy they have brought to others through their art. The program contained not only poems and reflections of Sister Joan Christine, but also a reproduction of one of her paintings, "The Living Flame of Love."

Photographs of the charming needlepoint of Sister Katherine Gray were featured throughout the program, as were several photographs of Sister Paula Mary's major works (see below for a slideshow of Sister Katherine's needlework). The lives and works of these great women reaffirm our "...desire to expand our imagination through the arts" (31st General Chapter).

A Reflection on “The Cosmos” by Joan Christine Von Bank, SNJM

In 2006, Paula Mary Turnbull, SNJM, created the metal sculpture above the altar in the Convent of the Holy Names chapel, Spokane, WA (pictured above). This artistic work is based upon photographs taken by the Hubbell telescope of never before seen galaxies in outer space.

Her work symbolizes the vast Cosmos and its Divine Creator, Source of all that is. The copper components represent the heavens, showing lenticular, elliptical and spiral galaxies. One of the latter galaxies is the Milky Way, containing billions of stars. It is home to the solar system in which we reside on planet Earth.

On this tiny speck of creation, the Word was made flesh and dwells among us. The brass Cross represents the Divine Presence at home and at work in the universe.

The total piece is like a womb full of being, no two creations the same yet interdependent and made for oneness.

Love is the Beginning and Love is the End as well as our life’s Companion in the ever-expanding universe.

This sculpture was inspired by the unremitting dedication of Evelyn Ferguson, SNJM, to education about God’s creation. Just as the sculpture symbolizes the continuous unfolding of creation, the Cross symbolizes the universality of Jesus Christ in and through the Church.

The sculpture, which was commissioned through the generosity of Katie and Bob Ferguson, sister-in-law and brother of Sister Evelyn Ferguson, was integral to the renovation of the chapel.

Note: Photo of “The Cosmos” (above) by Kelly Dullanty.

  • Needlework closeup

    Closeups of needlework by Katherine Gray, SNJM.
  • Needlework - February Violet

  • Needlework - April Sweet Pea

  • Needlework - May Lily of the Valley

  • Needlework - July Larkspur