By Barb Arland-Fye
DAVENPORT — Healing Petals, the popular collection of photographs of colorful flowers by Sister of Humility artist Elizabeth Thoman, has found a home in the Quad Cities — Bucktown Center for the Arts.
Sales of Healing Petals greeting cards, calendars and framed prints at the new location will also help provide a warm bed and caring service for Davenport’s homeless. A share of profits will go to Humility of Mary Shelter, according to Sr. Thoman. “Beauty comes in many forms,” she explained. “Sometimes a warm bed is the most beautiful thing in your day.”
Her photographs have been described as images that touch the soul. She sees them as an inspiration for anyone facing an emotional or spiritual challenge, a comfort for those who are chronically ill or recently diagnosed with an illness, and perfect for grandmothers or gardeners who can no longer garden.
Demand for Healing Petals has continued to grow since an article featuring them appeared several years ago in The Catholic Messenger.
“As a result of the first article, I received dozens of inquiries asking, ‘Where can I get more cards and prints?’” said Sr. Thoman, who at the time was living and working in California. Healing Petals cards are available in the gift shop at Our Lady of the Prairie Retreat near Wheatland (another local ministry of the Humility of Mary Congregation), but Sr. Thoman had no place to exhibit and sell larger-framed prints.
“I told myself, ‘When I move back to Davenport, I need to find a place to exhibit.’” She discovered Bucktown Center for the Arts while scouting for possible exhibit locations on a visit to Davenport about a year ago. Shortly after retiring to Humility of Mary Center in September, she inquired about exhibiting at Bucktown and was accepted.
“Her message is something we like, said Christine Braden, executive director of MidCoast Fine Arts, of which Bucktown is a component. Healing Petals will appeal to a different kind of collector than other artwork exhibited at Bucktown, Braden added.
She believes Sr. Thoman may be the first nun to have her artwork showcased in the eclectic downtown art gallery.
Setting up shop at Bucktown serves several purposes:
• Healing Petals provide an alternative Christmas gift for people who appreciate God’s creation in their lives and the peace, joy and hope that such appreciation fosters.
• The exhibit lets other artists know about what Sr. Thoman calls her “ministry of spiritual photography.” Her images are featured in people’s homes and in waiting rooms, clinics and medical facilities.
• Wider exposure for Healing Petals could open opportunities for workshops or parish presentations on how Healing Petals can benefit people’s lives. “They’re not just pretty pictures, but a tool to inspire meditation and prayer,” said Sr. Thoman, a cancer survivor who benefited from reflecting on the beauty of flowers in bloom during her illness.
Gallery hours are Wednesdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays (Dec. 15, 22) from noon to 4 p.m. in the gallery at Second and Pershing streets. An open house is scheduled for Dec. 15 from 1-3 p.m. in the second-floor gallery where Healing Petals artwork is displayed. On Dec. 22, a raffle will be held for a Healing Petals framed print (which appears in the photograph in this article). Anyone who purchases calendars, greeting cards or framed prints from now through Dec. 22 at 3:30 p.m. will be entered in the raffle. The winner’s name will be drawn at 4 p.m.
“If we do well here at Christmas, I hope to continue exhibiting through spring and into summer. Everyone who sees Healing Petals cards or prints always asks where they can get them in the future,” she said.
Sr. Thoman’s purpose with both events “is to encourage people to support local artists and Bucktown is where you can easily find good art at reasonable prices here in the Quad-Cities. Back to medieval times, Catholics have always supported the arts as a path to spiritual enlightenment. I’m proud to be a new member of the Bucktown art community and pleased that Healing Petals now has an accessible home in the Quad Cities.”