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Sister Nancyann Turner, OP, Receives Fra Angelico Award from Dominican Artists
Sister Nancyann Turner, OP, smiling. An image of one of her weavings in golds and browns servers as the background

August 22, 2023, Florissant, Missouri – Sister Nancyann Turner, OP, received the Fra Angelico Award for her artistic gifts in weaving and quilting and generosity in sharing those gifts. 

The Fra Angelico Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Dominican Institute for the Arts (DIA), an organization of Dominican Friars, Sisters, Associates, and Laity who are involved in or appreciate the arts. The award is named for the great Dominican artist of the Renaissance, noted for paintings, sculptures, and other artwork that often depicted scenes from Scripture. 

The award presentation occurred during the opening session of the DIA’s 25th-anniversary gathering, Silver Weavings from Gifted Hands, held July 25-28, 2023, at the Pallottine Retreat and Conference Center in Florissant, Missouri. 

Sister Nancyann, unable to attend the DIA Gathering in person, watched the opening session on Zoom with the encouragement of Sisters Kathleen Voss, OP, Joella Miller, OP, and Joanne Peters, OP. “I was really surprised when it happened,” Sister Nancyann said. “The award is a reminder of how much preaching and how much good one can do through the arts. We can use music, poetry, creative writing, drama, the visual arts to inspire, to rally spirit, to pray, to celebrate, and to grieve.”  

Sister Nancyann said she loves printmaking and graphic arts but has focused on weaving and quilting from her time in ministry in Appalachia. “These art forms combine materials, threads, and yarns to make a new whole,” she said. “They are both very contemplative, prayerful endeavors.” She has shared these creations with her family, making quilt comforters for 14 of her nieces and nephews – with four to go. 

One of Sister Nancyann Turner’s weavings is exhibited at the INAI art gallery.

Like other members of the DIA, Sister Nancyann sees art as a form of preaching, helping people to pray, contemplate, celebrate, and lament, “to be open to the love, the care and the creation, and the creativity of our God.”

Sister Nancyann also sees art as very therapeutic. She has worked with people in art therapy in psychiatric wards and rural settings where people tend to be non-verbal. “Art is a safe place to integrate your feelings,” she explained. “I believe that if all of us stirred our creativity, we would have a much more peaceful and compassionate world. Putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes helps you feel compassion.”

For years, she worked with the children in the Rosa Parks Children’s Program at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen in Detroit, helping the students to create art as an outlet for their emotions and a form of therapy. 

“I absolutely saw a difference in the children,” she said. “You can see them walk in angry from some after-school event, and they might put layers and layers of some color, and you see the anger lessen and the mood move from purples and blacks to brighter, more joyful colors.”

Art also connects people to God. “I think many of us pray through the arts,” Sister Nancyann said. “A color or a poem or a story or a piece of music or a symbol or ritual are all wonderful, nonverbal ways of praying.”  

Sister Nancyann has been a member of the DIA throughout the 25 years of its existence. “I believe the DIA has done a lot to strengthen the concept of preaching through the arts, to uplift somebody’s spirits,” she said. The organization has also connected the men’s provinces and the congregations of Dominican Sisters throughout the world. It has “also offered support to Sisters and Friars who might have been the only artist in their congregation or province,” she added. 

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Avatar  Magdalena Ezoe, OP 9 months agoReply

Congratulations on your Fra Angelico Award on your artistic accomplishment. We artists rejoice with you!

Avatar  Kathleen Waters 9 months agoReply

Congratulations for an honor well deserved. You are a very gifted artist and I am proud to know. you for so many years. Your works of art are an inspiration to all of us

Avatar  Nancy Murray 9 months agoReply

Nancyann, I am so happy you were chosen to receive the Fra Angelico Award.
You are an artist from your nose to your toes!
The words of Pat Daly, president of the Dominican Institute of the Arts,
beautifully carved your gifts and talents into a fabulous weaving of words.
We are very proud of you! Congratulations!

Avatar  Gene Poore, OP 10 months agoReply

Congratulations Nancyann! A well deserved honor for your beautiful works and commitment to preaching through art! Lovely article.



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