A Life of Teaching Art: S. Ann Austin Mooney
By Megan Simmermeyer, Communications co-op
S. Ann Austin Mooney’s Stations of the Cross were originally hung in Mount St. Joseph University’s Sixth Floor Chapel. Now they reside in the Sun Porch at the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse.
The set of wood carved Stations of the Cross now adorning the wall of the Sun Porch, adjacent to the Motherhouse Chapel, were crafted by S. Ann Austin Mooney during her time as a faculty member at the College of Mount St. Joseph. Originally hung in the Holy Spirit Chapel on the sixth floor of Seton Hall at the Mount, they resided there for over 50 years, but were moved after the decision to reconfigure the small chapel. Recently, they have found a new home at the Motherhouse.
A talented artist, S. Ann Austin joined the Congregation in 1931, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For 22 years, she taught primary, intermediate, and secondary students in Colorado and Ohio. She ministered at Seton High School (Cincinnati) from 1941-’45, as well as at Holy Trinity High School (Trinidad, Colorado) from 1945-’49. She then served as principal at Holy Trinity from 1949-’55.
S. Ann Austin Mooney was well-known for her metalcraft and created a great deal of jewelry and metal pieces, like this cross, which hangs in the Motherhouse.
In 1955, she arose to the challenge of instructing college students when she was called to her new ministry at the College of Mount St. Joseph (now Mount St. Joseph University). It was during her time at the Mount that she flourished as an artist and faculty member. She had received her bachelor’s degree from the Mount in 1942, and during her ministry at the college, she earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in metalcraft from The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. in 1959.
In addition to teaching, S. Ann Austin exhibited her own works at local Cincinnati area exhibitions, such as Area Artists at the Art Museum of Cincinnati, Liturgical Art Association with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, University of Dayton Liturgical Exhibit, and local church exhibitions. For nearly 30 years, she taught a variety of courses at the Mount, including metalcraft, design, drawing, interior design, and art history. She served as Chair of the department during the 1970s, as well as a volunteer librarian for the Art Reading Room.
For her MFA thesis, S. Ann Austin Mooney crafted a set of Stations of the Cross from walnut. Photo courtesy of Mount St. Joseph University Archives.
Her colleague Betty Brothers referred to S. Ann Austin as a quiet, humble woman, making it difficult to describe her accomplishments in the arts, but her most visible accomplishment, however, is her creative contribution to the design and production of the liturgical art in the University’s Mater Dei Chapel. S. Ann Austin, working with S. Augusta Zimmer, guided the Mount art students in creating the sculptures, stained glass, mosaic, enameling, and metalcraft still beautifying Mater Dei decades later.
S. Ann Austin retired from teaching full-time in 1978, but she continued to teach part-time until 1983. In 1984, shortly after her retirement from teaching in any capacity, she was granted the rank of professor emerita and honored for her contributions to the college and the Art Department.
In an interview about S. Ann Austin, her friend S. Mary Pat Wagner said, “She was not only a dedicated teacher but an artist as well. The old adage ‘Those who can – do; those who can’t – teach’ did not apply to Ann. She did both well, as her students and works can attest.”