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A Legacy of Community

by Cathy WilkinsCategory: Updates

woman seated at loom with other woman standing next to her, purple thread on loom
L to R: Sister Margarita Cardenas and Sister Bianca Haglich at the loom

Many would consider Sister Bianca Haglich, RSHM, to be the Eastern American Area’s and RSHM Institute’s “artist in residence.” An accomplished artist and artisan, her creative endeavors include sculpture, painting, drawing, ceramics, marquetry, stained-glass, silkscreen, and weaving. She studied and taught throughout the world. Early experiences brought her to Paris, Rome, Florence and Perugia. However, she was profoundly impacted by her 1968-1969 sabbatical in Finland.

Finland had centers in cities and towns where people could meet, weave and exchange ideas. In addition to the art of weaving, it was the sense of community developed in these centers that appealed to Sister Bianca. When she returned home, she continued tostudy and teach various forms of art and craft but was committed to creating a center where people could gather, weave, and create community.

four women standing behind two women seated, Background is shelves of colorful yarns

In 1977, with the support of Marymount College, she opened the Craft Skellar, located in the old carpenter shop of the school. By 1993, the weaving programs had grown and were incorporated into the college’s continuing education program. Sister Bianca continued to offer workshops in the Finnish techniques. People of all ages, faiths and backgrounds attended workshops to learn the age-old technique of weaving. Soon, both college students and adults were weaving together.

After Marymount College closed in 2007, Eastern American Province Provincial, Sister Rosamond Blanchet, provided the Craft Skellar with space on the Marymount Convent grounds. Eventually, it became known as the Weaving Center when it moved to its current location in 2015, just north of the Provincial Center.

two women standing at loom, pulling white yarn, background is shelves of various colored yarns

All those who have had the privilege of being taught by Sister Bianca, working with her, and sharing lifelong friendships, see her as a distinguished elder conveying not only a wealth of knowledge regarding weaving but more importantly a sense of spirit and community. They are committed to ensuring that Sister Bianca’s legacy continues – not just by sharing her patterns, designs and teaching methods, but by building and maintaining that sense of community.

Karyn Bovino, a former student, sees Sister Bianca as “weaving the thread that brought us all together.” For more than 40 years, Karyn and several of Sister Bianca’s former students, known as the “Wacky Weavers,” have met monthly. Sr. Bianca has been an important presence in all their lives, seeing them through good times and bad. While their passion for art brought them together, it is their special bond – fostered by Sister Bianca – that has kept the group energized and united.

Tali Havazelet, who has been weaving with Sister Bianca since 2005, is one of the volunteers who is taking on more of the day-to-day responsibilities of running the Weaving Center as Sister Bianca steps back. “What Bianca has created here is so special,” she said. “It’s an honor to continue this work.” Tali also points to the community that Bianca has created where fellow weavers were generous with their knowledge, supportive and encouraging. The Weaving Center will continue to follow the class structures that Sister Bianca established. The Center looks forward to offering in- person workshops once again this fall.

“The craft of weaving keeps one humble, but always on the road to creativity, learning, using new patterns and exploring new yarns. But one needs to find the time to be able to work at this ancient craft. It enriches the individual yet allows for much sharing with fellow weavers. The varied cultures, throughout history, have contributed to the usefulness and beauty of a handwoven piece. It has benefitted the human spirit and continues to enhance and enrich our life and environment.”

Sister Bianca Haglich, on the Weaving Center’s 40th anniversary

All those who have been inspired by Sister Bianca gladly strive to continue her legacy.

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