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Sister Mercedes (Marija Mickevicius) was born of Lithuanian immigrant parents in 1915 in Chicago. While studying at the St. Casimir Academy for girls (later renamed Maria High School), administered by the Sisters of St. Casimir, a religious order of the patron saint of Lithuania, she found herself drawn to religious life and joined the Sisters. After graduating from the Academy, she continued her studies at DePaul University in Chicago, graduating with a Ph.B. degree.
Sister Mercedes was also drawn to art and studied art at Rosary, Alverno, and Cardinal Stritch Colleges, the Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she received a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting and drawing. She also participated in the Summer in Europe Program sponsored by Loyola University of Chicago. This program provided a panoramic survey of European art: Early Christian, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical periods of nine European countries.
Over the years, Sister Mercedes has produced art works on scratch boards, canvases and walls, and her work has been reproduced in a variety of publications and on Christmas cards. She designed book covers and produced illustrations for the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, 1975-1979, the SSC publication Aidai, two children's books, and the periodical Laivas of the Marian Fathers, 1977-1990. Her largest project was a commissioned 17 x 22-foot mural of Our Lady of Šiluva for the Nativity B.V.M. Church in Chicago in 1957. It depicts the appearance of the Madonna in Šiluva, a town in western Lithuania, in 1608.
A major exhibit of 40 of Sister Mercedes works was held at the 69 Art Gallery, in 1969. Her works were shown at the University Club of Chicago, the Ciurlionis Lithuanian Art Gallery, the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture, and many were purchased by private collectors. Her paintings and graphics have received awards in juried group exhibits.
A book of her drawings and paintings, edited by Algimantas Kezys and Sister Mercedes, titled The Art of Sister Mercedes was published in 2000, and is available from the Sisters of St. Casimir.
Sister Mercedes continued to work at her studio in the Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Casimir, in Chicago till her death on October1, 2007.
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