When Dominican Sister of Hope Mary Ellen Wisner, OP was a small child, her mother taught her and her two sisters to draw. As the girls sat around the kitchen table in the early evenings, they slowly learned about the principles of perspective.
As such, all three sisters developed a creative bent that would stick with them for life. Sister Mary Ellen, who knew that she wanted to become a Catholic Sister since she was in the second grade, continued to paint even after she entered the convent. However, it wasn’t until years later that she allowed her work to be fully appreciated.
Now, a number of Sister’s works are in the chapel at Mariandale. On Sunday, August 28th, from 4-6 p.m., Mariandale Retreat and Conference Center in Ossining will host a viewing and reception to celebrate the artistic works of Sister Mary Ellen. The art show, A Life in Colors, will start at 4 p.m. with a reception to follow. All friends of Mariandale, new and old, are welcome to come and mingle.
More info and an RSVP form are available here. Below is an interview with Sister Mary Ellen.
When did you begin to love art?
I always had a love for art. I developed a love for drawing as a small child and then I would paint every Sunday in the convent. I had to buy my own supplies!
For years, you didn’t talk much about your art. Why did you keep it a a secret?
Well, I really didn’t think of becoming a professional artist; I was thinking more of teaching as a profession. I did teach, both elementary grades and art. My art started out to be a hobby: I just did it because I loved to do it. Later I found out that I was really better than I realized.
Where do you get your inspiration for your paintings?
I don’t decide what I’m going to paint ahead of time. I just see something and then I go ahead and paint it! The beauty of art is that it captures a single moment. I like to be outside where I can be inspired by nature, but then it’s very hard to actually paint outside with bugs and such. Often times, I’ll make a sketch outside and then complete the full painting indoors.
Your painting seems so personal. Is it holy to you?
It’s hard to explain: some people like flowers and some people like balloons. I love art. And I like to create art alone. A lot of my instruction was from my mother, but I’ve branched out, too. When I saw a friend of mine doing stained glass, I watched her and I decided I’d like to do that, too. Now, I work with stained glass, as well as oils and water colors.
When was the last time you painted?
The other day. I paint every week for a little bit. Usually when I have free time, I’ll do some drawing. It’s kind of in my blood.
Will you paint today?
I don’t know what’s in store for the rest of the day so I can’t say! I go with the flow. I hope that when people see my art, they appreciate the work involved in doing it, especially the stained glass. I hope that they love the finished product.