The Light of Sr. Lucia Wiley


Making Sails

I've only met her once. That was last fall at the convent where she lives and prays. I was in New York City to visit my friend Karen, who suggested we go see Sr. Lucia, the ninety-one-year-old artist who Karen had found so fascinating. I had seen some of her art, reproductions anyway; her murals are scattered around the country in post offices and court houses, the magnificent results of the Treasury Department's Art Projects and Roosevelt's WPA program. Her paintings are tucked away in museum collections and private homes. So all I've seen are pictures of these works.

The three of us sat in a small room discussing Karen's work and Sr. Lucia's work. And the subject of making a webpage for Sr. Lucia's art came up. And, without hesitating, I volunteered. After returning home to Denver, I came to GeoCities and reserved a small piece of cyberspace under the name "muralist" for her. Karen sent some scans and a chronology, and I built a small page. "Anglicans Online" was the first Web directory to notice. Now there are many. Another nun at the convent, Sr. Catherine, sent along more scans and the page grew. Karen sent a pair of cassettes, and I added RealAudio clips of Sr. Lucia talking about her murals in Tillamook, Oregon where she was born. And people came to the page and left encouraging words in the rapidly filling guestbook.

Lucia's Hand

After finishing late night sessions on the Web I would often go visit Sr. Lucia's page and call up an image -- my favorites are "Dance of Angels" (which is why it's on the opening page) and "Icon of the Holy Spirit;" my favorite mural is "The Building of the Morning Star." And I would close my day by watching one of these images for awhile. It became like a ritual, meditating on one of Sr. Lucia's paintings after zooming through the strange debris of cyberspace. And then I would go to sleep. The next morning the image from the night before would become the first thing I saw when I awoke my computer.

I titled the page "A Life in Art and Spirituality" because I knew that there was no separating the two for Sr. Lucia. Her art and spirituality reflect each other. One of the signers of the guestbook wrote: "I so remember happy visits with you at St. Cuthbert's House, especially when we could talk about expressing one's faith through artistic endeavors..." A great light shines through these images. And I am very grateful to be the person chosen to bring that light to anyone who happens upon this small piece of cyberspace.


Joe Beine, April 1998