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The 2014–2015 DIA board (from left): Father Rudolf Loewenstein, OP and Sister Mary Pat Reid, OP, members at large; Sister Elaine Taylor, OP, membership; Sister Jean Stickling, OP, treasurer; Sister Elizabeth Michael Boyle, OP, secretary; Pat Daly, OPA, vice president; Sister Barbara Schwarz, OP, president.

Dominican Institute for the Arts
Summer gathering celebrates art and spirituality

By Sisters Barbara Kelly, OP and Barbara Schwarz, OP

Dominican artists from as far away as England gathered July 24–26 in Adrian, Michigan, to celebrate and share their artistic gifts, socialize, pray, and reflect together on the gathering’s theme: “Art and Spirituality: Two Sides of the Same Coin.” The program was held at Weber Retreat and Conference Center on the motherhouse grounds of the Adrian Dominican Sisters.

The Dominican Insitute for the Arts (DIA) is a grassroots collaboration of sisters, friars, laity and associates of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), committed to preaching through the arts. DIA members include painters, musicians, dancers, sculptors, film makers, potters, poets, actors, composers, writers, designers of sacred space, dramatists, and those who appreciate and support the arts.

Sister Barbara Schwarz OP, DIA president, and Sister Elizabeth Slenker, OP, chair of the planning committee, opened the gathering on the evening of July 24 by welcoming participants.

Dr. Frances Belmonte, an emerita professor on the graduate faculty at Loyola University in Chicago, gave the keynote on the conference theme and led participants in a reflection process and discussion throughout the day on July 25. Dr. Belmonte began her keynote by discussing the coin of art and spirituality, and what that coin brings the bearer: “a deepening of spirituality, a deepening of our creativity, a deepening of our sense of calling… Ultimately what it buys us is ongoing transformation,” which she defined as “a leap into a whole new way of seeing and being in the world.” The coin also buys personal development and professional growth for the artist.

The Dominican artists concluded their first full day with a “virtual art gallery” dedicated to Jude Bloch, OP, and a coffeehouse—informal ways for participants to share their art with one another.

The second full day featured a number of workshops: card designs by Sister Diane Weifenbach, OP; digital newsletter by Sister Barbara Schwarz OP; spirituality in movement by Sister Xiomara Méndez-Hernández, OP; and a drum studio by Sister Suzanne Schreiber, OP. Participants also had the opportunity to take a tour of the permaculture of the Adrian Dominican campus with Sister Carol Coston, OP, and of Holy Rosary Chapel with Sister Barbara Rund, OP. Sisters Barbara Chenicek, OP and Rita Schlitz, OP opened INAI studios for the group to visit. It was a delightful time of learning.

During their business meeting that afternoon, DIA members elected new members to the board. The 2014–2015 Board is Sister Barbara Schwarz, OP, president; Pat Daly, OPA, vice president; Sister Elizabeth Michael Boyle, OP, secretary; Sister Jeanne Stickling, OP, treasurer; Sister Elaine Taylor, OP, membership; and Father Rudolph Loewenstein, OP, and Sister Mary Pat Reid, OP, members at large. Following the business meeting, artists gathered to share their work from the year. It was rich and exciting to see each other’s work.

Sister Barbara Schwarz (left) presenting Sister Alyce Van Acker with the DIA’s 2014 Fra Angelico Award.

The highlight of the 2014 gathering came after the closing Mass on July 26 with the presentation of the Fra Angelico Award—the highest honor that the DIA bestows on its members—to Sister Alyce Van Acker, OP. Sister Alyce, who focuses on acrylic and poured painting, has also taught art for the past 34 years at Fine Line Creative Art Center in St. Charles, Illinois. “For more than four decades, [Sister Alyce] has offered work in an impressive range of painting styles, chronicling an artistic journey that continues to evolve,” Sister Barbara said.

In addition, Sister Elizabeth Michael Boyle, OP, received the Spirituality Award for her service to DIA as board member, planning commission member, and editor of the DIA’s newsletter, OPalette.

Visit www.diartsop.org for pictures, artists’ work and more about the gathering.

The 2015 gathering will be held July 22–25 at Heartland Spirituality Center in Great Bend, Kansas, a ministry of the Dominican Sisters of Peace. The Dominican Sisters of Racine, Wisconsin, will host the 2016 Gathering July 27–30.