Mercyhurst Magazine Fall 2017

MERCYHURST’S ‘FIRST LADY OF THE ARTS’ Sister Angelica Cummings found two vocations when she joined the Sisters of Mercy in 1922. founded its fne arts department. She would remain at its helm for nearly 50 years.

and launched Mercyhurst’s Junior Year Abroad program in Florence, Italy, she remarked, “I like to see a painting take form, coming to life from blank canvas, but at the same time I think I am primarily a teacher; there is something to taking a student and seeing her blossom in front of you.” Sister Eustace Taylor, the longtime English professor and former Mercyhurst president who was a close friend, noted, “For those who knew her well, Sister M. Angelica’s religious life and her career as an artist blended happily. No matter what the subject of her painting, it spoke clearly of beauty, truth and goodness.”

While guiding hundreds of art majors during those years, she never stopped creating her own art, a body of work that earned her recognition across the country and even in Europe. She strongly believed that art professors should also be artists. When it came time to design the art facilities in Zurn Hall, she ensured that faculty ofces could double as studios, large spaces with lighting from the north and west—and their own sinks. Sister Angelica clearly loved being both artist and teacher. In 1974, shortly after she stepped away from the department she had created

With the opening of Mercyhurst College just four years in the future, Mother Borgia Egan was already beginning to assemble her pioneer faculty. The young nun had taken secretarial courses in high school and was doing ofce work in Washington, D.C., when she recognized her calling to religious life. Surprisingly, her aptitude tests detected notable talent in art, so Mother Borgia sent her to the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh to study. When Mercyhurst opened in 1926, Sister Angelica


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