This summer, the Cummings Art Gallery will honor its founder, Sister Angelica Cummings, with an exhibit of her original works from May 21 to Aug. 10.
The idea for this installment came from Ryan Palm, associate vice president for Advancement, and Heather Dana, former Cummings Art Gallery director.
Jessica Stadtmueller, Cummings Art Gallery director, is in the process of locating as many of Sister Angelica’s paintings as possible. There are several on display on the first floor of Old Main, but there are many more to be found.
“There’s a large volume of work out there, and we don’t know who all has it,” said Stadtmueller.
Stadtmueller is using the alumni network and local Erie outlets to compile a database of people who may have these works. There are also people reaching out to her offering to donate paintings.
There was a tribute exhibit for Sister Angelica in the 1980s, also held at Mercyhurst, showcasing at least a hundred donated works. Stadtmueller is using the list of pieces and patrons from that show to help in her search.
“I know she’s got more than enough work to fill the gallery,” Stadtmueller said.
Not only did Sister Angelica have a passion for art, but a passion for teaching and sharing her gifts with others.
“I can’t believe how highly everybody speaks of her when they call me and talk about how wonderful of a person she was. They all have a very touching story about why they have the painting that they have,” Stadtmueller said.
One unique characteristic of Sister Angelica’s works was her technique of painting with a palette knife. This artist’s tool is a flat, flexible knife that is used to mix paint on the palate. When artists use it to paint, it creates the sharp, angular lines and shapes seen in Sister Angelica’s paintings. She often painted scenes depicting religious images, scenes of boats and water or even abstract works focusing on shape and color.
Mercyhurst will be hosting several alumni and orientation events throughout the summer, allowing both the old and new members of the university to appreciate Sister Angelica’s life and work.