A Chicago church’s Stations of the Cross fashioned of clay and wood from former school desks, collages accented with tar, and sculptures of ceramic, brass, copper, steel, stone, and woods from around the world were among artworks by Sister Gilmary (Dorothy) Lemberg, SSND ’45 featured the “Sacred Work, Creative Spirit” exhibit on April 9.
During the fundraiser in a sunny room at Mater Christi Church in North Riverside, IL, A.O.L. alumnae and other friends of SSND enjoyed refreshments and a leisurely stroll through the retrospective of Sister Gilmary’s work. Most of the pieces were sacred subjects created for churches and other religious venues from Chicago to Paraguay. Some were treasures created for the artist’s relatives and friends.
Several of Sister Gilmary’s smaller art works were on display. Others were represented by photographs mounted on long vertical panels. Sister Gilmary’s niece, Fran Gregory, also an artist, designed the exhibit and built the display panels with help from nephew Michael Dunworth and another niece, Gilmary Habenicht. Leslie Lopez of the SSND Mission Advancement office in Wilton, CT, and Judy Presta, Chicago area donor relations coordinator, also assisted with arrangements.
Before the majority of guests arrived, Sister Gilmary conducted a watercolor workshop. Small paintings made during the workshop were framed and given to their creators.
The exhibit’s program recalled that Sister Gilmary’s approach to art was fearless: “At a time when women were expected to work nothing more dangerous than a stand mixer for a batch of cookies, Sr. Gilmary was wielding a blowtorch, creating art from found objects and brass. Her work cannot be classified into any specific genre except, perhaps, as gift. Gift back to God, to society and to those she cherished. She never remained static, always experimenting with a new technique. No media intimidated her. She was equally comfortable blasting away rock, chiseling wood or mixing paint. . . . Her ability to transform cast-away objects into beautiful art had genesis in the desire to create.”
Proceeds of “Sacred Work, Creative Spirit” will benefit elderly School Sisters of Notre Dame and SSND ministries such as SisterHouse, a substance abuse rehabilitation facility for women, and Corazon a Corazon, a program that assists Hispanic immigrants and their children. Both are in Chicago.