Many Sisters of the Precious Blood make art and crafts, and while the forms of their creations vary widely — carving, painting, quilting, singing and many more — they share in common a means of communion with others, and a way to reflect the beauty of God.
Sister Barbara Jean Backs shares her wonderful gift of art with great love. She makes a special drawing which depicts a theme for each week, incorporating that week’s antiphon from the Roman Missal. These drawings are placed on the bulletin board in the hallway that leads to the chapel at Salem Heights.
Another gift of hers is woodcarving, which she started when teaching elementary students in Ottoville, Ohio. “There was an article in the county paper advertising the woodcarving club,” she explained. “I went down and asked if women can join, too — because at that time, there weren’t any other women there.” She was welcomed into the club, and after she exhibited her work at a local art show, more women joined the club as well.
Over the years, she has created many beautiful wooden items. Along with Sister Mary Rose McCrate, for many years she belonged to the Dayton Carvers Guild in Tipp City, where she was able to develop her talent in weekly workshops.
Sister Barbara Jean’s interest in art began as a child when she “doodled” between lessons in the classroom, and at home. As an elementary teacher, she enjoyed decorating bulletin boards for her classroom to highlight lessons and capture students’ interest. She has never had formal training in art, but her gift is so evident, especially in the intricate features of people’s faces.
“To get an idea for artwork, you have to do some meditating first,” Sister Barbara Jean said. She has found over the years that creating art is a very prayerful experience, along with her other interests: backpacking, mushroom hunting and enjoying nature.
“Nature is such a teacher, and it is so beautiful,” she said. “Nature and artwork just go together.”
We are very thankful for this special gift which she has, and which she shares with so much love.
Story by Sister Regina Albers; contributed photo