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Prolific Artist, Sister Mary Southard, Creates Inspirational Work that Renews & Restores the Spirit

Versatile 2-D and 3-D artist, Mary Southard CSJ, from LaGrange Park, IL is pictured here carving in clay, JOSEPH ON THE JOURNEY. It was cast in fiberglass and has been duplicated for installations in various places from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Iowa to California.

"To paint is to pray," says Sister Mary Southard succinctly. One look at her life-size Biblical sculptures or her ethereally beautiful paintings, and viewers readily see the guiding hand of her deep spirituality. She is a member of the Congregation of Saint Joseph and resides at Joseph Center in LaGrange Park, IL, one of her Congregation's Residences.

"I hope the art I create prompts the viewer into a broader awareness of the sacredness of our planet, our universe, and of the whole natural world. It is a great privilege to be graced with the gift of wanting to make art. It is important to remember and trust what is given. Making art is one way to give expression to what moves within our soul, to welcome what the Spirit sends with courage. It requires that we silence the inner critic, cultural expectations, and whatever blocks the flow of creative energy."

Sr. Mary readily recalls her first introduction to artwork that captured her imagination -- drawing mandalas using a compass, learning about warm and cool colors to complete it, all the while in an eighth-grade art class of 72 students! Fast forward to college where she majored in art with ceramics her favorite medium. Her teacher in a ceramic sculpture course (who herself was sculpting in marble), encouraged Sr. Mary to do a life-sized plaster sculpture. Later, she received her Master of Arts at Notre Dame in South Bend, IN where she learned more about sculpture, mold making, and casting.

Her life-sized sculptural works are cast in fiberglass, cement or bronze and grace a variety of buildings, gardens, hospitals and churches across the country including the Congregation's Chapel in LaGrange Park. There she designed the altar made of maple wood harvested from trees that needed to be removed from their property to enlarge a driveway. It has a tabletop of maple wood and glass and an Earth sphere sculpted in plaster, covered in bronze. The beautifully stained wood sweeps around and upward in two graceful large curves like arms embracing the Earth while supporting the tabletop. See photos...

The altar was engineered and built by Mike Holtz and his team at Der Holtzmacher Ltd. of Sycamore, IL

Sr. Mary designed and carved the AMBO (oblong pulpit Reader's Stand) which coordinates beautifully back to the altar, as does the baptismal font pictured immediately below.

Mary of the Garden for St. Francis Xavier parish, LaGrange, IL

Here is the completed JOSEPH ON THE JOURNEY cast in fiberglass.

THE GIFT is cast in bronze for a church in Florida where Sister Mary actually worked at the foundry sculpting in clay, then helped to pour the mold and observing the casting in a lost wax process.

BEHOLD, oil and sand on canvas

MUSIC OF LIFE acrylic on canvas.


BENCH OF DREAMS, oil pastel Learn more

Fine Line Creative Arts Center |


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