Through art, Jill Rodts helps people see God’s beauty, presence

Photo Caption: Jill Rodts of St. Pius X in Rock Island is coordinator of, and one of 22 contributing artists to, the “Art of Faith” sacred art show and sale Feb. 28 and March 1 at Farrell Hall of St. Pius X Parish.

By: By Jennifer Willems

ROCK ISLAND — While people look to the images with which they are inundated daily to tell stories, they aren’t accustomed to looking for Gospel values in them. Jill Rodts hopes to change that.

“I’m all about helping people see that God is good, God is beautiful, God is real,” she told The Catholic Post during a recent interview in Farrell Hall at St. Pius X Parish here. She is gathering artists who will fill the hall with examples of that this weekend for the Fourth Annual Art of Faith Show.

“Transformed by Grace” is the theme for the sacred art show and sale, which will be held from 2 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 28, and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 1. In addition to the works of 22 artists, there will be musical performances and poetry readings.

Keith Bonnstetter will also present a paper cutting workshop from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.

A juried panel reviews each submission to make certain it is in line with the faith and shows God’s heavenly divinity, Rodts said, adding “it should evoke devotion and inspire, as well.”

Proceeds from “Transformed by Grace” will go to Art of Faith Ministries, which seek to evangelize while providing support for the arts. Projects include:

— creating handmade Christmas and Easter cards for people who are homebound or living in nursing homes;

— donating supplies to Jordan Catholic School, including a DVD on the Divine Mercy Chaplet for children; a book, “The King in the Golden City” for second-graders preparing for their First Communion; and a CD of the book to the St. Pius X lending library; and

— holding free workshops for children and adults about the gifts of the Holy Spirit and art programs for Lent and Easter.

Rodts knows the value of art in daily living.

She started drawing as a child growing up in Milan and went on to Millikin University in Decatur, where she earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in commercial art. She had dreams of getting a good graphic arts job, but God had other plans.

Rodts got involved in LifeTeen at St. Pius X in 1999. As her faith started to grow so did her desire to bring it to her art.

“I never thought about doing religious art. It was something that came to me as I was working with youth,” she said. “I remember saying in college I would love to glorify the Lord using my paintings for church, but at that time had never painted religious subjects.”

At St. Pius X she started meditating on Scripture and designed four banners for Advent and six for Lent. She didn’t start a banner until she had found a word in the Gospel readings that inspired it.

She continues to share her talents with the parish as part of the Art and Environment Committee and as a substitute teacher. She is also a rosary leader and a member of the Servants of Christ Prayer Group.

Rodts works at LifeTouch Portraits at JCPenney as she pursues her vocation.

“The artistic vocation is a vocation. You use Gospel values to share the light of Christ with the world,” she explained. “And Jesus is the ultimate beautiful one for us.”

She said she prays that the Art of Faith Show will “celebrate the unity of our Catholic faith, attracting viewers from Catholic churches in the Quad Cities within the Diocese of Peoria, as well as create friendships among artists and Catholics in the Diocese of Davenport.”

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