Dominican Sisters of Adrian: ‘Sisterhood’ Exhibit Showcases Artwork of Sisters Rita Schiltz and Sarajane Seaver

January 24, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – The artwork of two Adrian Dominican Sisters – Rita Schiltz, OP, and Sarajane Seaver, OP – is being showcased through Tuesday, February 13, 2018, at Lenawee Council for the Visual Arts Gallery at the Adrian Center for the Arts.

The exhibit gives the public the opportunity to view the work of the two Sisters, both life-long artists. Several Adrian Dominican Sisters and members of the general public attended a reception January 21.

Pieces on display include Sister Rita’s jewelry and metal-working arts and Sister Sarajane’s weavings.

Sister Barbara Chenicek, OP right, shows visitors one of the models she created when she and Sister Rita Schiltz, OP, designed worship space.

Sister Rita hopes that people who view her work “are interested in seeing something that didn’t exist, something that was created out of various materials and did not exist before.” She said metalworking is a “good avenue for experimenting in the material. Most of the work that I’ve done is casting. It’s a case of creating the design in wax and then casting it by centrifugal force into the intended object.”

Sister Rita has been engaged in the arts her whole life. “Even as a small child, I was designing and making things,” she said. Her formal arts education was at at Siena Heights College (now University) in Adrian; Universidad Santo Domingo, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and California State College, Los Angeles. In turn, she taught art at the high school and college levels.

Sister Maria Goretti Browne, OP, left, and Sister Christa Marsik, OP, examine some rings created by Sister Rita Schiltz, OP.

When she and the late Sister Barbara Chenicek, OP, a painter, opened their studio, INAI, 43 years ago, Sister Rita temporarily put her own metalworking and jewelry-making aside. The two artists were known throughout the world for their design of places of worship for parishes, schools, hospitals, and congregations of women religious.

Like Sister Rita, Sister Sarajane began her art at an early age, embroidering and embellishing small quilt squares decorated with nursery rhymes. After she had completed more than 100 squares, Sister Sarajane said, she and her mother found fabric to frame the squares. She gave the two twin bed quilts to her nieces.

Sister Sarajane Seaver, OP, seated, and Sister Nadine Sheehan, OP, explore one of Sister Sarajane’s weavings.

Sister Sarajane studied art at the Center for Creative Studies and at Wayne County Community College, both in the Detroit area. While serving at the Center, she also worked with others on a handwoven piece commissioned by the Ford Motor Company. She has led many art experiences at Weber Retreat and Conference Center, and has woven prayer shawls, basing her design on musical notes in such hymns as Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.

“Being a weaver is not something I do,” she said. “It’s something I am. Taking that away from me is like taking away a part of me.”

When people look at her artwork, Sister Sarajane said, “I hope they see the gifts of God and the beauty of God.”