Nuns https://mag.uchicago.edu/tags/nuns en Un-convent-ional https://mag.uchicago.edu/arts-humanities/un-convent-ional <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/1408_Jaffery_Un-convent-ional.png" width="700" height="325" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/jmiller" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">jmiller</span></span> <span>Mon, 08/25/2014 - 14:23</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>(Photos courtesy Abbie Reese, MFA’13)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/minna-jaffery-ab15"> <a href="/author/minna-jaffery-ab15"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Minna Jaffery, AB’15</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/web-exclusives" hreflang="en">Web exclusives</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">08.25.2014</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Abbie Reese, MFA’13, completes the filming of her new documentary, <em>Chosen: Custody of the Eyes.</em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>In <em>Dedicated to God: An Oral History of Cloistered Nuns</em>, in bookstores now, the nuns whom Abbie Reese, MFA’13, interviews retain their anonymity by using aliases. Now Reese has completed the filming of a feature-length documentary titled <em>Chosen: Custody of the Eyes</em>. Describing the differences between the book and the film, Reese says, “The book itself was like a study, that it was a way for me to truly understand the culture and establish really strong trust and negotiate how to respect their values.” The documentary, by contrast, is “like an unhinging, and it’s a more creative process.” The documentary, she says, delves deeper into the nuns’ everyday, as opposed to the larger moments in their lives.</p> <p>[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1834","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"312","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"460"}}]]</p> <p>The nuns took footage of their own lives inside the monastery. This new look into their cloistered existence is unprecedented, and the intimate access to the monastery offers a new take on religion in a modern era. The nuns staged scenes to be filmed, such as their daily chores, and recorded video diaries about their experience being cloistered. The documentary is a much more collaborative effort when compared to the book; the nuns have complete control over the direction of the documentary.</p> <p>[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1835","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"312","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"460"}}]]</p> <p>To cover the costs of postproduction work, Reese set up a project on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo. To encourage donations, she includes as giveaways items made by the nuns, such as handmade rosary beads, which are sent to those who donate $20. Among the other perks are retreats to monasteries in Santa Barbara, California, and Boston, and DVDs and photographic prints. The <a href="https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/chosen-custody-of-the-eyes#home" target="_blank">Indiegogo campaign</a> runs through September 17.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/arts-humanities" hreflang="en">Arts &amp; Humanities</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/catholicism" hreflang="en">Catholicism</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/nuns" hreflang="en">Nuns</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/film" hreflang="en">Film</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-relatedstories field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>“<a href="../arts-humanities/higher-ground">Higher Ground</a>” (<em>University of Chicago Magazine</em>, web exclusive, 07.16.2014) “<a href="../arts-humanities/ordered-lives">Ordered Lives</a>” (<em>University of Chicago Magazine</em>, May–June/14)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-relatedlinks field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p><a href="https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/chosen-custody-of-the-eyes#home" target="_blank"><em>Chosen: Custody of the Eyes</em>’ Indiegogo campaign page</a> <em><a href="http://global.oup.com/academic/product/dedicated-to-god-9780199947935;jsessionid=9CABDA718E33B57FC83C507FA7FD82A5?cc=us&amp;lang=en&amp;" target="_blank">Dedicated to God: An Oral History of Cloistered Nuns</a></em></p> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/arts-humanities/un-convent-ional" data-a2a-title="Un-convent-ional"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Farts-humanities%2Fun-convent-ional&amp;title=Un-convent-ional"></a></span> Mon, 25 Aug 2014 19:23:22 +0000 jmiller 3868 at https://mag.uchicago.edu Higher ground https://mag.uchicago.edu/arts-humanities/higher-ground <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/1407_Zulkey_Higher-ground.png" width="700" height="325" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/jmiller" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">jmiller</span></span> <span>Wed, 07/16/2014 - 13:44</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>(Photography by Abbie Reese, MFA’13)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/claire-zulkey"> <a href="/author/claire-zulkey"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Claire Zulkey</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/web-exclusives" hreflang="en">Web exclusives</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">07.16.2014</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Abbie Reese, MFA’13, talks about her time in the cloister.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>When I read “<a href="../arts-humanities/ordered-lives">Ordered Lives</a>” in the May–June/14 issue of the <em>Magazine</em>, a piece where independent scholar Abbie Reese, MFA’13, reflects upon her time taking oral histories from cloistered nuns, I finished wanting to know more. So I reached out to Reese with some follow-up questions.</p> <p>[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1777","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"338","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"460"}}]]</p> <p><strong>Did you dress a certain way when you went to the cloister?</strong></p> <p>Typically, when I conducted interviews, my routine was to take off my dangly earrings and any rings, and leave the jewelry in my car. I didn’t wear much, if any, makeup. I usually wore black, especially on those days when I went inside the enclosure to make photographs. I always hoped the dogs would ignore me, but my presence always stirred them up.</p> <p>During an interview near the start of this project, one of the nuns told me that I should be mindful of what I wore when I entered the enclosure. I was a bit taken aback; that may have been the most direct instruction from any nun to behave a certain way.</p> <p>The novice mistress, who helps young women acclimate to the monastery, explained this: Since the Poor Clare Colettine nuns wear a traditional full habit, they aren’t used to seeing anything more than wrists and fingers and the face. Sister Mary Nicolette helped educate me; I dressed more modestly. I had told the mother abbess from the start that I wanted to go inside the enclosure to make photographs. I made the changes, and I was invited inside the enclosure. I’m sure it was a sign to the mother abbess and the community that I respected their values while in their space.</p> <p>[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1778","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"338","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"460"}}]]</p> <p><strong>What did you observe when the nuns work the prayer hotline? What did it seem like most callers needed help with?</strong></p> <p>At the beginning, that was a primary question: What do the nuns say to the callers? What do people ask? I wanted to hear. I got permission from the mother abbess to listen in and record the calls—the nuns’ side of the conversation. I can’t remember exactly what transpired, but I decided not to do that; it seemed intrusive.</p> <p>I looked at the daily list of prayer requests that the nuns copied down by hand, which they transcribed by typewriter, and then shared with the community aloud and posted outside the mother abbess’s office. The callers ask for prayers for physical healing (from tumors, cancers, heart conditions, difficulty getting pregnant), marital troubles, financial difficulties, and on and on.</p> <p>I asked the nuns assigned to answer these calls about their experiences; this shed light on their perspective and struggles. Poor Clare Colettine nuns remove themselves from the world to draw closer to God and essentially to serve as emissaries and to mediate on behalf of humanity. They believe their prayers and penances can change the course of history.</p> <p>Because they observe monastic silence, they don’t typically chitchat or make small talk, and because they seek anonymity, the nuns aren’t supposed to tell the callers their religious names—they’re supposed to say that they’re just one of the sisters. (They don’t want the callers to get attached and call back asking for one nun.)</p> <p>Sister Mary Clara shares her name, though, and she gets attached to the callers. If she doesn’t hear from someone in a while, she asks permission to write a letter to inquire about her health and situation.</p> <p>[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_original","fid":"1779","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"338","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"460"}}]]</p> <p><strong>In the book many of the nuns refer to God as their “spouse”: why this term and not “husband”?</strong></p> <p>The mother abbess says that the word <em>husband</em> denotes a human; they use the word <em>spouse</em> because it’s a divine relationship, not a human relationship, on the spiritual realm.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Read the rest of the<a href="http://zulkey.com/2014/07/the-abbie-reese-interview.shtml#.U8ACdqi0Y0c" target="_blank">&nbsp;interview</a>&nbsp;at Zulkey.com.</em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/arts-humanities" hreflang="en">Arts &amp; Humanities</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/catholicism" hreflang="en">Catholicism</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/nuns" hreflang="en">Nuns</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/photography" hreflang="en">Photography</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refformats field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/formats/interview" hreflang="en">Interview</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-relatedstories field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>“<a href="../arts-humanities/ordered-lives" target="_self">Ordered Lives</a>” (<em>University of Chicago Magazine</em>, May–June/14)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-relatedlinks field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p><a href="http://global.oup.com/academic/product/dedicated-to-god-9780199947935;jsessionid=9CABDA718E33B57FC83C507FA7FD82A5?cc=us&amp;lang=en&amp;" target="_blank"><em>Dedicated to God: An Oral History of Cloistered Nuns</em></a></p> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/arts-humanities/higher-ground" data-a2a-title="Higher ground"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Farts-humanities%2Fhigher-ground&amp;title=Higher%20ground"></a></span> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 18:44:51 +0000 jmiller 3746 at https://mag.uchicago.edu Ordered lives https://mag.uchicago.edu/arts-humanities/ordered-lives <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/1406_Reese_Ordered-lives.jpg" width="700" height="325" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/jmiller" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">jmiller</span></span> <span>Wed, 05/14/2014 - 14:57</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>(Photography by Abbie Reese, MFA’13)</p> <div id="extension-is-installed"> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/abbie-reese-mfa13"> <a href="/author/abbie-reese-mfa13"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Abbie Reese, MFA’13</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/university-chicago-magazine" hreflang="en">The University of Chicago Magazine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">May–June/14</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Cloistered nuns tell their stories.</p> <div id="extension-is-installed"> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><em>This winter, Oxford University Press published </em><a href="http://global.oup.com/academic/product/dedicated-to-god-9780199947935;jsessionid=9CABDA718E33B57FC83C507FA7FD82A5?cc=us&amp;lang=en&amp;" target="_blank">Dedicated to God: An Oral History of Cloistered Nuns</a><em> by Abbie Reese, MFA’13. Reese visited the Corpus Christi Monastery of the Poor Clare Colettine Order in Rockford, Illinois, over eight years, patiently gaining the trust of the nuns who live there and capturing their stories. Fewer and fewer women are making their choice; from 1970 to 2010, the number of religious sisters worldwide fell almost 30 percent. As of the book’s publication, there were 20 nuns in the Rockford cloister. Their observance of their vows—of poverty, chastity, obedience, and enclosure—is strict even by monastic standards. But Reese found the nuns disarming, open, and more diverse in their beliefs than she expected. Together with Reese’s <a href="https://www.abbiereese.com/photos/">luminous photographs,</a> their words reveal the complexity of what only appears to be a simple life.</em>—Laura Demanski, AM’94</p> <p>During one of my first visits to the Corpus Christi Monastery, the mother abbess allowed me to sit in on a meeting with a young woman visiting for the weekend as a prospective member. It was 2005. I had told the mother abbess that I would be a fly on the wall. But after they talked for a while, I made a comment or asked a question. Mother Miryam stared me down. “A fly on the wall, eh? I wish I had a swatter.” I was stunned into silence. Then I laughed. She smiled. In spite of my blunder, I had passed a test.</p> <p>Almost a decade has lapsed since I first visited this community of cloistered contemplative nuns in one of the strictest religious orders in existence. I am often asked why the nuns granted access. Like any relationship, my engagement with these women, who seek anonymity (each choosing an alias for this project), is based on negotiations and trust developed over time. By 2008 I was invited further into the enclosure to make still photographs. My friend Pieralberto Deganello, U-High’91, AB’94, years ago joked that I am a “nun whisperer.” I told the mother abbess this, and she laughed.</p> <p>I am not Catholic. I started this project believing that there would be value in learning the stories of those who, as Mother Miryam told me, are “erased from the landscape.” Cloistered nuns’ stories are not in the public records, or known to one another since they observe monastic silence—speaking only as much as necessary in order to complete a task, other than during one hour of recreation each evening when they can talk freely. This withdrawal from the world, they believe, allows them to intervene on behalf of humanity in their prayer. “It’s the hiddenness,” Sister Sarah Marie told me. “It’s the little, pulled away, hidden, nobody really knows about you, nobody really cares, might not even care to know about you, that does—it has, I think, tremendous impact.”</p> <p>The project came into being because I wanted to understand what compels young women today to make such a countercultural commitment. Each said that she was called; faith allowed them to accept, in spite of their own desires and God-given personalities.</p> <p>The severity of their lives is striking. During the four visits permitted each year, the nuns and their loved ones are separated by a metal grille and are are not supposed to reach through the bars to touch one another. They give family members one final hug during the ceremony when they make final vows.</p> <p>I have been humbled by their openness with me and inspired by the grace and the space that they extend to one another. Mother Maria Deo Gratias told me that when she passes another nun in the hallway, she bows a little. She nods to her religious sister and to the other nun’s guardian angel. It wouldn’t be courteous to greet one and not the other, she said.</p> <p>My methodology has shifted as our collaboration has evolved. Heather, who was trained as a painter and was a blogger, joined the order in 2011. Wondering what would happen, I lent her a video camera to document her world. During a talk at Temple University, I showed a demo of the collaborative ethnographic film in progress. An art history student working on French nuns in the 18th century thanked me for contributing to the historical record and asked: Are you concerned that the video sensationalizes the nuns’ lives and in 200 years will cause people to misunderstand those lives? In interviews and photographs, I told her, the nuns share what they want to and construct their performances. Heather, who is 27, is a product of a reality television culture and chose to make self-scrutinizing video diaries in that style. I understand the student’s concern but don’t share it.</p> <p>During St. Martin’s Lent, the mother abbess arranged for me to visit the monastery to watch a slide show the nuns made in the 1950s and still show to young women visiting to discern if they have a calling. They had updated it using some of my 3,600 photos. Sister Mary Nicolette told me that the nuns were reading <em>Dedicated to God</em> and learning about the lives of their own members. She had finished the book and said that it is “true,” that it is the nuns “without any makeup.” At her request, I printed out Amazon.com reader reviews. Mother Maria Deo Gratias read the reviews in the parlor while I copied their new slide show to my laptop. Reading a review that wanted the order’s rules included, Sister Maria Deo Gratias defended me, saying the reader wanted what I had not aimed to create. Another review questioned my knowledge of Catholicism. Mother Maria Deo Gratias said, “You didn’t know at the beginning. You wanted to learn.”</p> <div id="extension-is-installed"> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/arts-humanities" hreflang="en">Arts &amp; Humanities</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/catholicism" hreflang="en">Catholicism</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/nuns" hreflang="en">Nuns</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refformats field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/formats/photography" hreflang="en">Photography</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-relatedstories field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>“<a href="../arts-humanities/higher-ground">Higher Ground</a>” (<em>University of Chicago Magazine</em>, web exclusive, 07.16.2014)</p> <div id="extension-is-installed"> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-relatedlinks field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p> </p> <div id="extension-is-installed"> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-storymedia field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p> </p> <div id="extension-is-installed"> </div> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/arts-humanities/ordered-lives" data-a2a-title="Ordered lives"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Farts-humanities%2Fordered-lives&amp;title=Ordered%20lives"></a></span> Wed, 14 May 2014 19:57:23 +0000 jmiller 3337 at https://mag.uchicago.edu