By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
When Gabrielle Schadt opened her art portfolio for Pat Bereskin of Bereskin Gallery & Art Academy two years ago, Bereskin said Schadt “showed skill beyond the young woman sitting next to me.”
Schadt had come to Bereskin to take formal classes to develop her artistic gift. This past April, Schadt was awarded a scholarship from the Figge Art Museum in Davenport for young, college-bound artists. She will study art at the Sacred Art Academy in Florence, Italy, later this year.
“Art has been a natural part of my childhood,” Schadt said. “Each member of my family is gifted artistically in various ways. Since my father is an incredible artist and writer, using our artistic talents is something we always enjoyed. We were constantly in awe of his talent and would try to replicate his drawings and take his instruction very seriously.”
Her art journey began at home with her father, Devin Schadt, as her instructor. For the past two years she has taken classes with Bereskin and David Anderson.
Bereskin said Schadt has moved rapidly through her studies. “As a homeschool student, she is able to complete her general high school course work and utilize the rest of her day with other areas of study.”
Schadt said Bereskin is “a faithful Catholic woman who has given me every opportunity possible to learn and advance as an artist. I truly believe her guidance is anointed with the Holy Spirit as demonstrated in the many lives she has touched.”
With Bereskin’s encouragement, Schadt applied for various scholarships for a fine arts education. “All of this has provided me the incredible opportunity to study at the Sacred Art Academy. None of this would have been possible if it were not for this wonderful woman.”
Painting religious works such as portraits of favorite saints, majestic angels and the Blessed Mother Mary gives Schadt the most joy and satisfaction. “I also enjoy painting portraits, landscapes, still life, digital illustration and abstract works,” Schadt said.
“When painting, I thank God that he has given me this gift and rejoice in the fact that he allows me to participate in his plan of salvation by bringing others closer to him through art. It gives me great joy knowing that God delights in me and my work.”
Schadt has displayed her art and had the opportunity to sell some of her works at the annual Art of Faith Show for Catholic artists in the Quad-City area. “This has been a great experience year after year.”
She sells some of her art at shows and gives away other pieces.
Spiritual guidance from several close religious friends and loved ones led Schadt to study fine art at the Sacred Art School. The two-year program teaches students to create and design religious works of art using traditional and contemporary techniques. Students study drawing, painting, anatomy, composition, art history, philosophy, theology of the body and Christian symbology. “Students are also given the wonderful opportunity to learn from the masters by traveling around Florence to study the sacred art in the many churches and cathedrals. This will not only be a great source of inspiration, but an incredible way to see in a visual form what is being taught,” she said.
Beyond art, a “deep and growing desire to give Jesus everything has led me to discern life as an apostolic sister with the Family of Mary,” she said. The essence of an apostolic sister’s vocation “is to offer their lives to God for the sanctification of all priests. The community’s priests strive to fulfill their duties for the kingdom of God.” They are assisted by brothers and apostolic sisters and Mission Helpers of the Family of Mary.
Most of the community is from Europe but many members are multilingual and speak English.
“We have been blessed by a long-time friendship with our dear Sister Martina from The Family of Mary. My father met her at a T.E.C. retreat while she was still discerning religious life. Years later they reunited after she became a sister in the community. We have been truly blessed by her friendship and have been in close contact with her ever since we were very young,” Schadt aid.
While studying in Florence, Schadt will discern her next step and also visit the Family of Mary station in Rome as often as possible. “This will help me discern with greater clarity my vocation with The Family of Mary.”
Currently, Schadt is working on several pieces of art for commission to help meet her financial responsibility in Florence. She is available to talk with youth groups, church groups or others interested in learning about her artwork, studies and vocation. For more information, visit her website at gabrielleschadt.com or email gabrielleschadt @gmail.com.