The Art of Transformation by Associate Kristen Hall

by Kristen Hall, CSJA

Kristen Hall is a CSJ Associate (since 2011) and student at CSJ-sponsored Fontbonne University. As an artist, she felt called to deepen her understanding of the Sisters of St. Joseph's communal transformation through painting. This is the story of how her creation came to be.

From the Past...

I remember reading CSJ Archivist Sister Jane Behlmann’s “Jewels from Jane” e-mails that tell about the history of the sisters, and looking at the archived photographs. The photos seemed to possess a certainty about the traditions and identity of the community years ago.  We know who we were and who we are now but the uncertainty lies in the identity of the future. As I continued to look at these photographs, I realized that these archives are not only a look into the past but into the future as well.

S. Jane sent out a photo of a novice about to make her vows. I first noticed the old traditions and style in the photograph but did not think that was what the artist was trying to capture. I looked closer and realized this photo was about transformation.  Changing from the person that she used to be and evolving into a vowed Sister of St. Joseph. The photo was about joy, uncertainty, commitment, and trust that God would guide her in life.  Today, these emotions still take place in our transformation journey. 

Into the Future...

I was satisfied with my reflection on the photo but still struggled with how I could visually express and research our future.  I smiled and thought, “Why not use the tools I have at hand!” I have maxims, poems, a constitution, photos, and the Internet. I immediately got on my computer and Googled the word “transformation.” 

Many different photos popped up but what struck me the most were the images of space.  It reminded me of one night when I felt upset and very unsure of my future.  Even though I only got four hours of sleep, the sun still rose in the morning and it set in the evening.  The natural cycle of transformation has always been at work in the community. My reflection with the earth’s rotation brought me to the conclusion that things may look different but the spirit is still the same.

Find the Spirit

In the center of my painting, "Find the Spirit" (pictured above), I placed the blessed sacrament. God is the driving force of our individual lives, the earth, and the community. He will guide us in our transformation into the future if we are open to it. In the mean time, we have to be aware of the tools of our time and the willingness to change our ways.

I had to redefine my process of reflections and research for my paintings. I could no longer ignore the use of tools like Photoshop and images on the Internet. Using a photo as a collage in a painting was a first for me. I had to change my ways to respond to God’s call for my paintings. I am excited to see how my painting and research process evolves in the future. 

Use the past, find the spirit, and make something new!

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