By Sharon Coy
Blade Staff Writer
This Thursday evening's Concordia Art Walk will begin in the auditorium of the Nazareth Convent and feature the artwork of Sister Marquita Murguia, one of the convent's newest residents.
Murguia works in many mediums, all of which are part of her display. Her paintings are watercolors and acrylics with design being her favorite form of acrylics.
She also has a number of encaustic paintings, also known as hot wax painting. The process involves using heated beeswax to which colored pigments are added. Liquid/paste is then applied to a surface—such as prepared wood or canvas. Metal tools and special brushes can be used to shape the paint before it cools, or heated metal tools can be used to manipulate the wax once it has cooled onto the surface.
Encaustic is from the Greek for "Burnt in." As a medium for painting it was commonly employed by the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. The Greek encaustic methods have enjoyed a resurgence in the 21st century because they allow the artist to use non-caustic natural materials to create effects similar to oil paint.
Some of Murguia's paintings on the display are unframed and illustrate her ability to be creative on whatever material is available.
Also in the display are several of Murguia's beautiful sculptures including her favorite which she calls "The Inevitable." It features women of the Bible at the Last Supper on a rotating table. Each woman, from Sarah to Mary Magdalene is identified with a small name plate. Pottery vases by Murguia can be seen on either side of this sculpture.
Other sculptures displayed are "The Visitation" of Mary visiting Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, and "Familia," which is of Joseph and Mary with Jesus as a child standing between them.
Mosaic is another medium Murguia is skilled at and one of the most beautiful works in her display is that of St. Joseph. She said she uses tiles made especially for artwork as well as broken dishes.
Murguia was born in El Paso, Texas, and grew up in Silver City, N.M. She said she believes she must have had an interest in art at an early age, recollecting how as a small child when a room in her house had been newly painted in a neutral color, she thought it was ugly.
"Somehow, when no one was around, I found a can of red paint and a can of blue paint and repainted the wall to 'make it look pretty' " she said.
"When I got home from school, my mother was not happy and whopped me for what I had done."
Murguia's mother was working as a live-in maid and cook and they had one room for their living quarters. "I can still hear her asking herself, 'Why am I working for other people?' " she said. Somehow her mother managed to purchase a house and convert a portion of it into a small restaurant.
Murguia learned to wait tables when she was a second grader. She said the menu was simple, red enchiladas and beans except for Saturdays when they added a few other specialties.
A couple who came from Chicago every year to the restaurant knew about Murguia's love for art and would always bring her paints and art supplies.
Murguia was 11 years old when her mother died. She then went to St. Mary's boarding school in Silver City. When she graduated from high school, she joined the Sisters of St. Joseph and studied to become a nun at the Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia.
She later went to Marymount College in Salina where she studied art and eventually earned a Master's in Art at Notre Dame University.
Much of her early life was spent teaching—first and second grades at Pfeifer and Park in Kansas and grades 1-4 in Grand Island, Neb.
From Grand Island she taught at Sequin, a small community in western Kansas with only the grain elevator, the church, the school and the priest's house. Though her friends in Grand Island warned her she would be bored, she never found that to be true.
"I learned to ride a horse, played marbles with some of the students and painted. I was there three years but could have stayed there the rest of my life and not minded," she said.
Wherever she taught, she always made sure that the students had the opportunity to take art every Friday. As long as all of their other class work was finished, they were permitted to do so.
After her time in Sequin, she returned to Grand Island where she taught high school art and drafting for three years. From there she went to El Paso where she taught art in a hospital and worked on her many art projects, some of which will be on display at Thursday's Art Walk.
From El Paso, she moved back to the Nazareth Convent where she has been for nearly two years. Here, she continues to paint and enjoys going to El Puerto, the local Mexican resaurant, whenever the occasion arises.
The Convent will be the first stop at 5 p.m. on Thursday's Art Walk. From there, participants may go to Concorida Spine & Sport to view Jim Anderson's photography and Phyllis Shanks' paintings, Flower Gallery to see Shanks' new hand-painted rocks, Threads, where Jade and Penne Chaput will be displaying mixed media and Ruth Sederlin, woodcarvings, the Frank Carlson Library where Concordia Elementary School students' artwork will be displayed and The Smoke Shop where Carol Urban is showing her repurposed furniture and paintings.
The walk will conclude at 8 p.m. with music by Max Bryam, guitarist, at Heavy's. Music by area artists recently featured on KNCK's NCK Studio Sessions program will be played on new downtown speakers during the evening.