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Dominican Institute for the Arts

Dominican Institute for the Arts Celebrates
the Preaching Mission

DIA board members present the Greek muses to participants as inspiration and entertainment

RACINE, WI – August 13, 2007-- Honoring the 800th anniversary of the Dominican Order, more than 60 Dominican artists from around the United States and Great Britain gathered here for the Dominican Institute for the Arts (DIA) last week. From August 6-9, the artists held their annual conference at Siena Center in Racine, observing this significant anniversary and the feast day of St. Dominic on August 8 with special events.

“We gather from across the country to share, to learn, to network and to pray together,” said Grand Rapids Dominican Lucianne Siers, OP, chair of the DIA Board of Directors. Describing what is unique about the group’s 11th annual conference, whose theme was “Living Water – Birthing Flame,” she said, “There’s great energy this year focused on who we are as Dominicans of the future. We’ve incorporated a contemplative aspect into the gathering.”

Mary Ellen O’Grady, OP  (Sinsinawa) and Anne Lythgoe, OP (Elkins Park) offered a creative keynote presentation: Anything Can Happen at the Well. Portraying the characters of the Samaritan woman of John’s Gospel and Juana y Aza, St. Dominic’s mother, they offered a unique perspective on the relationship between art and preaching, as each of their historical characters lingered at the town well.

This first person narrative gave  Daniel Rolland, OP of Salt Lake City new insights into the two women of church history. “And new insights are always important for preachers,” he noted. He also found the DIA board’s personification of nine muses a creative way to “inspire artists and this organization to move in a new direction. After 11 years, it’s time for new beginnings.”

First-time conference attendee Marlene Edwards, OP (Grand Rapids) appreciated the “atmosphere of openness and friendliness, no matter where people are from. The sharing and building up that comes from being together is inspiring,” she said. “Artists need that.”

Mary Pat Reid, OP (Caldwell) found that “individual strength increased 100 fold” as Dominican artists came together – “through prayers, the support of the communities we come from and support of the DIA founders.” She appreciates how the element of fun “seems to lighten what would be a heavy burden,” such as the various communities’ commitment and work in the counter-cultural realm of eco-justice.

Pat Lee, OP (Amityville) remembers being “blown away” when she first attended the DIA in 1995. “I didn’t belong to any arts organizations at the time. To meet so many Dominican artists was amazing.” She has attended 10 of the conferences, coming for the friends as well as the content. “When you leave, you’re so inspired to keep working and doing. I always look forward to coming. Each year I meet new people, and that makes it interesting and exciting.”

Kathleen Loewen, OP (Racine) accompanies Anita Smisek (Sinsinawa) during the Celebration of the Arts segment of the meeting.

In addition to major presentations, communal prayer, and trips to a variety of art galleries and museums, conference attendees chose from several workshops to help them sharpen their “artistic saw”: praising God through appreciating nature, cinematic contemplation, preaching through music, writing poetry as a spiritual practice, digital photography, and pen and ink drawing.

“The focus of the DIA is to see ourselves as artists preaching through the arts,” S. Lucianne explained. “There are many ways to teach and preach – through painting, music, cinematography, writing, sculpture, pottery and so much more. This year we even have a magician! Preaching isn’t just through words.”

A special moment within the conference was the announcement of the 2007 Fra Angelico Award to Joeann Daley, OP (Sinsinawa)  READ MORE

The Dominican Institute for the Arts is a grassroots organization of Dominican artists who promote preaching through the arts. It encourages and appreciates all Dominican artists and supporters of the arts. The group looks forward to its next conference in August 2008 at Dominican University in Columbus, OH.

Jean Mullooly

Jean Mullooly is the Director of Communications for the Dominican Sisters of Racine.









Joann Daley, OP (Sinsinawa) is the 2007 recipient of the Fra Angelico Award


Jean Ackerman, OP (Racine)




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