Martha Bartholomew OPA, poet, preacher and spiritual director,and more was named 2009 recipient of the Fra Angelico Award, the DIA's highest honor.
In her citation, Lucianne Siers,OP praised Martha for having graced us with musical lyrics, beautiful metaphors and deep illustrations of life and spirituality for decades.
An Associate Member of the Sinsinawa Dominicans, Martha is a wife, mother and grandmother who currently conducts retreats from her home, now known as
Siloam Retreat-House of Prayer near Dundee, Illinois.
Studies in art, religion, and spirituality earned Martha degrees at Mundelein and Loyola University in Chicago and culminated in a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Graduate
Theology Foundation in Donaldson, Indiana. Martha has published books in both poetry and prose, but it is for her contributions in poetry and weaving that she is most admired within the Dominican Institute for the Arts.
Health concerns prevented Martha from attending this year's Gathering, so she listened to the news of the DIA's Fra Angelico Award being bestowed upon her and the applause of the members through Lucianne's cell phone. A startled Martha stammered, "For once this poet is without words!"
Later she emailed a fulsome response:
Curiously, that very morning I had been seeing off a retreatant here at Siloam, an artist/teacher/art therapist. On impulse, I picked up a copy of "The Most Important Poem You Will Ever Read Will Be Your Own." We spent a few minutes talking about how, whatever the media, the artist is one who expresses the depth of his/her contemplation and becomes Word as the work is enfleshed.
As Dominican Artists, we are ever more aware of the way we preach through our works.
They are largely the fossils of our inner experience, aren't they? May we continue to inspire, delight, evoke, encourage, admonish - whatever - each other. And maybe next year at Grand Rapids, we can try again to weave with words.
Deo Gratias. Et tu.