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"To the swingingest nuns around!"
Two nuns have brought creativity, fun and lots of color to the College of Notre Dame or 25 years.

By Lisa Simeone
Photographed By Kirsten Beckerman

Sisters Mary Gerold Mobley and Marie Vincent BrothersThat’s the inscription on a handmade Christmas card that has pride of place among hundreds of cards, posters, snippets of paper and framed photographs that line the walls of Gerold & Vincent Graphic Design studio. Sisters Mary Gerold Mobley and Marie Vincent Brothers. Or, to those who know them, G&V.

These two School Sisters of Notre Dame have been a creative force at the College of Notre Dame for 25 years, first as art teachers in the education department, and now as in-house graphic designers. That favored Christmas card was created by celebrated artist and type designer Edward Benguiat, with whom they once studied. They giggle when they point it out— they’re used to being called things like “swingingest.” With their sleek silver hair, baubly jewelry and chic outfits, they’re hardly the nuns of Catholic grade school lore, though they’ve been members of their religious order for 50 years. Don’t ask how old they are, though. Their smiles turn shy and their enthusiasm dims. “It’s just a little quirk we have,” they say.

The sisters first met in 1964 while pursuing graduate studies in English and art at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. Later, while both were teaching at a school for gifted and talented youth in St. Louis, they took a silkscreening class that they say changed their lives and made them see art in a new way.

The class was taught by Corita Kent, whose artwork and anti-war activism landed her on a Newsweek cover in 1967— and also landed her in trouble with the Catholic Church (she was a nun at the time). Her colorful rainbow swash design for the “Love” postage stamp in 1985 became a best seller. Hanging in G&V’s studio, which is located in the basement of Meletia Hall on campus, are several Kent silkscreens, including one quoting an e.e. cummings poem, “Damn Everything but the Circus.” “She inspired us,” says Sister Gerold. “She was a wild artist.”

Sister Gerold and Sister Vincent came to the college in 1983 and taught art education to budding elementary school teachers. In 2001, they gave up teaching, but they’ve left deep impressions on their former students. “They are the most amazing and fun-loving people I’ve ever met,” says Anne Walker, who studied with G&V from 1983 to 1988. Walker is now chair of the Art Department at Notre Dame Preparatory School. Another former student is Amy Fister, now an accomplished designer and founder of Fister Lauberth, Inc. in St. Louis. “It’s been 31 years since my last formal class with them,” says Fister, “and I can find a way to trace some aspect of everything I do and who I am back to what I learned from them. They taught me to see.”

Sister Gerold is the more talkative of the two, words rushing out and tumbling over each other. She often finishes the sentences of Sister Vincent, who sits quietly, arms crossed, while Sister Gerold pops in and out of her chair, pointing out prints, retrieving photo albums and beads and cards. Two large iMacs sit on desks to one side of their studio, while shelves and tables throughout the room hold hand-carved fonts, rubber stamps, ink pads, cloth, books and paper.

Sister Gerold and Sister Vincent believe everyone can “see” in an artistic sense and they regard their work as a mission. “Art is so important,” says Sister Gerold. “To look at things we love, to be stimulated by beautiful things. They encourage us. They lift us up.” They’re saddened by the state of art education in the world at large. “I don’t think art is being taught as much as it should be,” they say. “We’re lost in sports, in politics.”

These days, G&V focus their artistic energy on creating greeting cards, most of which sell for 50 cents— “We’re not in this to make money,” they laugh— otherwise, all their work is for the college. The cards combine quotations from literature with G&V designs: hand-stamped lettering by Sister Vincent, photography by Sister Gerold. You can’t find them at your local stationery store. You have to go straight to the source, to the basement of Theresa Hall on the North Charles Street campus. Go in the morning, and you’re likely to find them. But after 1 p.m., they head out to design at home, to pick up inspiration at Michaels (the arts and crafts store) or, sometimes, to work as extras in a movie being filmed in Baltimore. They already have “Enemy of the State,” “Random Hearts,” “Liberty Heights,” “Ladder 49” and “Contact” under their belts.

“Are you really nuns?” actor Will Smith once asked them. “Yes,” Sister Gerold replied, “but we like to have fun.”


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Posted by Ana Alfred on 02/12/12 at 03:38 AM

I want to jump on the band wagon.  I was one of the blessed students who grew under the inspiration of Siters Gerald and Vincent at Rosati Kain High School.  I hated being a teen but I loved art classes with them both.  I went on to teach art at the Summer camp for the Jewish Community Center.  And now teach Library skill in VA in new a different ways because of the creative spirit they both helped to foster in me.

YeaH Sister Gerald and Sister Vincent You both “Rock.”

Posted by Malissia (White) Hands on 02/22/10 at 10:04 PM

Thank you to Gerald and Vincent, the greatest influence in my life,
for teaching me how to see.

Posted by joan engelmeyer on 02/20/10 at 11:53 AM

I taught Graphic Design at the College of Notre Dame of MD for 9 yrs in the 1990’s and Sister’s G & V were always an inspiration for me. They and my students were the best part of being there. I’m so happy to see that they are continuing to inspire!

Posted by sally mericle on 09/14/09 at 07:29 AM

They were my art teachers in high school.  I always felt inadequate because I am not comfortable drawing - but what I learned from them influenced the way I dress and the way I speak. Their aesthetics of the every day transcended the razor point pen. While reading the article I realized that God has always been trying to get my attention by putting beautiful things in my line of sight - including these two wondrous beings.

Posted by Shrimani (Mary Louise) Senay on 08/18/09 at 02:37 AM

What a fantastic article on two women who influenced my life, career and way of viewing everyday objects in most wonderful and unusual ways! I was a former Rosati-Kainian (‘76) and spent every spare minute in that incredible rainbow art room. I remember touring high schools, walking in the door and sighing with happiness, knowing this was the place for me. I have been a teacher, currently in DC, for 25 years now and am going back to school to be…an art teacher! Thank you for being such an influencial part of my life!

Posted by Kathy Bauer Bovino on 05/15/09 at 03:10 PM

e.e. cummings, Andy Warhol, the coolest yearbooks ever, frottage assignments,texture,color,freedom-it was all part of my life changing experiences in that wonderful art classroom on Lindell.  I have absolutely zero artist talent- I struggled through the simplest mechanics, but I have so much appreciation because of great teachers like Gerold and Vincent.  Thank You!

Posted by Brenda Kirby Zanola on 03/25/09 at 10:56 PM

I have lasting memories of Sr. Gerold’s art classroom at Rosati-Kain in St. Louis, in the late 60s.  Gerold would breeze through the room, comment on our work, inspire us, and urge us to think creatively.

Every time I hear Simon & Garfunkel’s “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme” album, I remember those days so clearly.  Because it was the only album we had!

(P.S.  We were “gifted and talented”??) 

Sr. Marie Vincent is my aunt, and she is a force of nature!

Love them both.

Posted by Maureen Brothers on 03/24/09 at 07:59 PM

It was wonderful to read about 2 of my role models of some 40+ years ago.  It’s reassuring to know that some things do remain the same.  Thanks for all you do! ...  from one of your “gifted and talented” (I like that!).

Posted by Kathy Kopp Johnson on 03/23/09 at 01:41 PM

It’s clear from the comments that these two extraordinary women continue to be catalysts for learning and caring and deep appreciation of the visual world on pretty much a daily basis. I direct a university design program and on our very best days, there’s a hint of the spirit that resided in G&V’s art room at Rosati. Now that’s worth working for! Love you guys. Always, Cherie

P.S. Maureen M. our interns have made it to San Diego but not LA. Now I have a connection! Promise to encourage only the best…

Posted by Cherie Fister on 03/15/09 at 02:35 PM

Can’t believe all the people responding! I know many of them from high school. They were the most influential teachers I had in H.S. In the article, I couldn’t believe that Vincent was the quiet one smile They were not the only influences in my career today, but probably the most important because they loved the visual world and were able to helped me connect my fascination with all things visual and make it part of my life’s work. I have my own business in Los Angeles Thanks Vincent and Gerald!

Posted by Maureen McHale on 03/14/09 at 04:10 PM

Congratulations G and V.
Sisters Gerold and Vincent have inspired me over the years over and over and over again to be a designer.  They are over the top gracious always and all ways. They have contributed to the mission we as School Sisters of Notre Dame live by… “proclaiming good news”...and living the spirit of oneness that was Jesus’ own and ours to recreate every day. 
Gen Cassani, SSND

Posted by Genevieve Cassani, SSND on 03/14/09 at 02:57 PM

I can still clearly hear their infectious laughter through the halls of CND.  I know their burks must already be on their feet with this beautiful weather.  The gift they give to each student at Notre Dame can be matched by no other.  It is done in such a way that they touch your heart with theirs and enhance your passion in life.  I ran into them not too long ago with my own children and took great pleasure in introducing my toddlers to these 2 amazing women.

Posted by Susan Kerrigan on 03/09/09 at 08:26 PM

Yes, Gerald & Vincent fueled my curiosity and inspired me to take risks. Their classroom spilled into the community, embracing everything from the cathedral next door, to the trash cans in alley and the written word (wherever it was found).  I am forever grateful for their influence.

Posted by Susan Bostwick on 03/05/09 at 01:41 PM

I concur… they ARE the swingingest nuns around. And they have been that way forever! Thanks to their influence I see beauty even in the simplest patterns and repetitions of ordinary things. It brings a lightness into my life and pleasure to my soul. Thanks G&V - what a gift.

Posted by Christine Ivcich on 03/03/09 at 12:27 PM

G&V are zen masters too, unofficially. They changed my life and like Amy Fister (another brilliant and bright light) said in the article, they continue to influence me daily, ever since I met them nearly 40 years ago at that school in St Louis.

Posted by eluning on 03/02/09 at 08:33 PM

The 2 Sisters (sisters?) and Lisa Simeone’s writing made me want to convert. From Judiism to Catholicism? No. From Brother to Sister.

Oh, if I were rich!

Posted by Chester Aaron on 02/24/09 at 01:29 PM

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