Youth to hold religious art show in BolivarBy: Linda Leicht Bolivar MO
Madison Higginbotham signed up for Jean Rabe’s religious art class at Sacred Heart Parish in Bolivar because she wanted to learn more about Bible stories. When she chose the story of the miraculous catch of fish in the Gospel of Luke as the subject of her watercolor, she learned about the story but she also learned a life lesson for herself: “You should keep trying even if you fail.”
That is exactly the result Rabe was hoping for when she offered the class. She explained that she attended a Catholic grade school, where she was always encouraged in her art by the sisters. It was art that helped her deepen her faith.
“I wasn’t good at any of the other things in school, but I was good at drawing and loved to draw religious pictures,” Rabe said. “I felt like I was actually participating in the things I was drawing. I was, in some way, present.”
A few years ago, it occurred to her that most of the youth in the Bolivar parish don’t get to go to Catholic school, so she decided that she would offer some of that experience through her art classes.
“It was an opportunity to share that special feeling,” she said.
A nurse, Rabe retired two and a half years ago. She worked with both adults and children in the psychiatric ward at Cox North Hospital in Springfield and often used art to help the patients express their emotions. She continues to volunteer there, but Rabe knew that in her retirement she wanted to express art for the church.
She has been doing that through her religious art displays at the church, and now her art students will have an opportunity to do the same. Each of her five art students, ranging in age from nine to 14, will have some of their work displayed during a showing Oct. 8 at Sacred Heart.
Those attending will get to meet the artists and hear about each piece, as well as listen to music student Joshua Arendt, 13, perform on the piano.
Josie Toombs, 12, a seventh grader at Bolivar Middle School, is looking forward to the show.
“It’s fun to show people what we’ve done,” Toombs said. Last year, she was Rabe’s only art student, but this year she was joined by Madison, an eighth grader at Halfway School, and siblings Ava Pastore, age nine; J.T. Pastore, 12; and Jenna Pastore, 14, all students in Bolivar.
Toomb’s colorful depiction of the Pentecost got her thinking more about the event.
“The disciples were probably pretty scared,” she said. “They didn’t know what it was. I would probably be pretty scared too with flames of fire above my head.”
J.T. really loves sports and he wasn’t quite sure what to think when his mother signed him up for Rabe’s art class along with his sisters.
“But this is actually pretty fun,” he admitted. His pastel watercolor of Jesus sitting under a tree embracing a white lamb is “actually pretty good,” he has decided.
“I think of it as me sitting … feeling the warm, soft wool,” J.T. said.
He still loves sports, but J.T. is already making plans to take the art class again next year.
Sibling Jenna was the one who first inquired about taking the class when she saw the signup sheet in the parish.
“I really wanted to learn about how Jesus does the things in the Bible,” Jenna said. She also wanted to draw. She remembered that she loved drawing when she was little, but she didn’t know if she would be any good at it.
“I didn’t know I had the potential to draw like that,” Jenna said with obvious pride. Her drawing of the Ascension gave her confidence in her art and insights into her faith.
“It was people just like us, sitting, but they see Jesus ascending into heaven,” she said of the kneeling figures with their hands reaching out to Jesus moving upward into the clouds.
As she sketched and painted, Jenna began to feel like she was one of the disciples in the picture.
Ava, age nine, came to the class an art lover, but she wanted to learn more about art and the Bible. When she decided to paint a portrait of the Virgin Mary, Rabe taught her techniques in order that she might draw the mouth and nose, but Ava turned to a higher power for inspiration: She prayed and asked Mary to help.
“I felt like Mary did help guide us,” Ava said.
Rabe is excited about the growing interest in the art class and the upcoming art show.
“We had such a good time working and planning. It was such a blessing,” she said. Her voice cracked and her eyes filled with tears of joy when she talked about the show.
“I’m going to be very, very proud,” she said, turning to her students. “I’m so proud of all of you.”