Sister Marjorie Raphael SSM's exhibit is being shown at the Gallery through February 2012. Join us for a reception at the Gallery on Saturday, January 21, 2012, from 2:00 to 4:00 PM.
If others can write of "Joy in the Heart of the Quest" (Helen Luke, Jungian analyst and writer, 1904-1995), then what, in this case, is the quest? For me, it is the response of soul, and brush, and paint to the magic of snow, autumn leaves, November scapes, and, in rare courageous moments, to the wonder of the human face. It is sometimes a "slice of life," a quick answering to quickly moving clouds, seas, or to changing light on trees or hills, on a house or barn. But always it is an alleluia to the Creator's unfathomable gift of all that is of life, relationships, the earth, and the as-yet-unknown.
Learn more about Sister Marjorie Raphael SSM in her biography statement, below.
My childhood was spent in Port Washington, Long Island, New York. My paternal grandfather was a horse-and-buggy doctor, ministering to rich and poor of that town, and enjoying his small farm.
The farm idea never left my father, so our summers were spent on a simple farm near West Saugerties, New York, in the Catskills. It also became for me the school for "plein air" out-of-door oil painting, for every autumn my mother and my grandmother would spend four weeks together, just painting trees and hills and waterfalls. That ended for me at age fourteen with my mother's sickness and death. But I still use their skills—alizarin crimson and ultramarine blue for the magical purple that adds perspective to a tree, and skies that need a tiny touch of Prussian blue mixed with white to put sunlight into the predominately ultramarine blue sky.
So much for my plein air education. After that, it was just doing it, year in and year out, on annual holiday time and other breaks in the busy life we all must live.
The busy life for me meant boarding school (where the idea of "becoming a nun" first entered my head), then Barnard College in New York, where I graduated with a major in religion and a minor in art history, then an extraordinary eight-month apprenticeship with Violet Oakley (1874-1961), the great mural painter in Philadelphia. Then from there to St. Margaret's Convent in Boston for my life work.
"Buried in a convent"? Not exactly! My first three years I worked in a kitchen (St. Margaret's Home, Montreal) that fed 50 elderly and sick people. Then I was asked the question, "How would you like to go to Haiti?" So off I went to Haiti for a total of 34 years, broken in the middle by fifteen years of administrative work in Boston. My last tour of duty in Haiti ended with the earthquake of January 12, 2010, after which I returned to Boston.
These years included occasional chances to paint Haiti's beautiful mountains and seashore, 24 days of painting in 1989 with my sister in British Columbia, and annual holidays with family in East Meredith on the western side of the Catskills. The paintings in this exhibit reflect these locations, and also Duxbury, Massachusetts, where the Sisters of St. Margaret have maintained a presence since 1903, first offering a summer camp for children, and later a place for quiet reflection and retreats. In 2012, the Sisters plan to sell their Boston convent and consolidate their center of operations in Duxbury, thus becoming permanent residents of a town they love.