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Recognizing the Sisters’ Legacy and Dedication in a Big Way

Nelia Palma

Within the Demystifying Art lecture series at the Stewart Hall Art Gallery in Pointe-Claire, a talk entitled Public Art featuring artist Shelley Miller and landscape architect Eileen Finn – both Montreal-based – will be held on June 3. During this event, visitors will have the opportunity to learn about their truly imaginative and highly significant collaborative project – the creation of a new public sculpture entitled Impression – commissioned by the City of Pointe-Claire, to honour the Sisters of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame (CND) who occupied the convent near St-Joachim Church and the 300 year-old wind-mill along the shores of Lake St-Louis for over two centuries.

Shelley Miller is known for her public art projects. She has created numerous ephemeral street art installations using materials that have typically been reserved to decorate the finest cakes and pastries. Indeed, she brings brick walls and deteriorating urban surfaces to life with stunning sugar murals and cake icing graffiti.

Among her most recent permanent public art commissions is the monumental and fascinating mosaic entitled Structura Habitata which adorns the adult hospital atrium of the new McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).

As a landscape architect, Eileen Finn’s work effectively combines beauty, ecology and creativity. She and her team work to find creative and sensitive solutions for residential and public clients. In the family of ecology and urban agriculture, some examples of projects she has worked on include school yard designs, green roofs and walls, edible landscapes, public art services and memorial landscapes.

In order to pay tribute to the Sisters of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame, who were an integral part of its history and heritage and who played a key role in instilling the Congregation’s values through their teaching and community involvement, the City of Pointe-Claire commissioned an outdoor public sculpture. Shelley Miller’s and Eileen Finn’s book-theme artwork measuring 8 ft. long by 4 ft. high was selected.

First and foremost, this outdoor art aims to recognize the historic educational contributions that the sisters have made since the Congregation de Notre-Dame was founded by Marguerite Bourgeoys in the 17th century. It is therefore significant to note that the wall of books, which makes up a large part of the work, consists of concrete moulds pressed by actual books donated by the public. The wall symbolizes the key role played by these women in educating and instructing the population. The Congregation’s Archives Services also provided the artists the imagery of actual CND text book covers. Indeed, the porcelain cover of certain books are works written and published by the sisters themselves. The work includes a bench offering a view of Lake St-Louis and a restful place for mediation and reflection.

The sisters moved to Pointe-Claire Village, known as The Point, in 1784. The current convent was built in the 19th century and was used for teaching purposes until the late 1950s. While it was then used to board students and house teaching sisters, by the 1960s, the convent building became a retirement facility for the sisters. They, however, continued to be involved in the community by helping students with school work and offering spirituality classes until well into the 21st century. In the fall of 2014, the last 19 sisters still residing in Pointe-Claire moved to other convents. The public outdoor artwork by Shelley Miller and Eileen Finn which will stand near the convent will provide a lasting memory of, and a fitting tribute to the sisters of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame in Pointe-Claire.


Event: Demystifying Art Lectures

Title: Public Art with Shelley Miller and Eileen Finn

When: June 3, 2015 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Where: Stewart Hall Art Gallery, 176 Bord-du-Lac - Lakeshore Rd, Pointe-Claire

Tel.: 514-630-1220 Fax: 514-630-1285

In English

Free admission




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