by Kevin Moore
Sister Jane Mary Sorosiak, Order of Saint Francis and a retired Lourdes University Art Professor, has spent 30 years making large ceramic murals for churches, schools and hospitals across the U.S. She joined the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania in 1955 and became part of the then Lourdes College faculty in 1976. Today, she focuses mainly on her art.
How did you get into mural painting?
When I look back on it, I feel I was destined to do murals. In second grade, I would do murals on newspaper and my classmates would color them in. I attribute my pursuit of art to my teachers. They were always encouraging me. I first started doing ceramic tiled murals 30 years ago. When I came to Lourdes, I did a 40-foot mural of Christ.
How did your artwork become well known?
People came to me. When I would make a mural for one church, another would hear about it. Commissions have never stopped. One leads to another. It seems I’m supposed to be doing this.
What is your creative process?
Making murals is a long process. When I start designing, I usually end up with something I never intended. I really think the Holy Spirit guides me to what people need to see. Then I make the sketch on tracing paper and begin molding the wet clay. That’s my favorite part. I get to control the image. Then, the pieces are dried before firing, colored and glazed.
What would you say is your style? What influences you?
I’d say my style is realistic but slightly abstract. I love icons and I include a lot of religious symbolism and nature. I like the work of Mark Chagall. He would make these birds twisting in air as if they were so delighted by God. I think that influenced my curvature.
How do you hope your murals will help others?
I hope my pieces are uplifting; art s hould be uplifting. Whether it’s modern or abstract, the art should give spiritual joy. I was told by one person that he liked to stop by my pieces for meditation and prayer. My art is a ministry—not just a job, but a ministry.