Artist Page 2022

In hopes of more fully sharing the rich gifts of our community, we have invited four artists to offer visual reflections on the readings as part of the Return to Me series. Read more about the artists below.

March 8 - Lorena Sferlazza ‘15

Artwork by Lorena Sferlazza

Deliver Us, 2021
Coffee on cold pressed paper
5 x 7 inches

Artist Bio:

Lorena Sferlazza Headshot

Lorena Sferlazza ‘15 (she/her) is a visual artist, educator and community collaborator passionate about igniting dialogue around contemporary art and social change. Lorena is the Education Manager at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT, where she leads exhibition-inspired programming for a wide range of learners, and serves as a Resident Artist for The Norwalk Art Space in her hometown of Norwalk, CT, where she teaches free high school art classes to help bridge the education gap for underserved youth.

Lorena received an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, a dual BA in Visual Arts: Studio and Italian with College Honors from the College of the Holy Cross, and Certificates of Study from the Università degli Studi di Firenze and Libera Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence, Italy. Lorena’s paintings navigate trauma and healing, have been published in Create! Magazine, and have been exhibited in solo and group shows across the Northeast, including at Anna Zorina Gallery in New York City and the FMC Tower in Philadelphia.

Connect with Lorena on Instagram (@lorenasferlazza) and

What did you study at Holy Cross and what was the most transformative course you took?

I studied across disciplines at the College: visual art, art history, Italian language and literature, cognitive psychology, education, sociology, religion, and philosophy. Officially, I graduated with a double major in Visual Arts: Studio and Italian from the College Honors program. I also studied abroad for my junior year in Florence, Italy, and participated actively in the Ciocca Office of Entrepreneurial Studies and Campus Ministry. Looking back, I see clearly how this education was an indescribable gift.

Several courses stayed with me beyond the hill, including Prof. Mathew Schmalz’s College Honors seminar Religion and Violence, visiting Jesuit Rev. A. Maria Arul Raja’s Dalits: Theology of the Oppressed, and Prof. Cristi Rinklin’s semester of the Senior Studio Concentration Seminar. They encouraged me to think critically, put myself in another’s shoes, and continue to question everything.

Of these courses, I remember Professor Mathew Schmalz’s seminar most vividly. Prof. Schmalz would often play “devil’s advocate” to challenge our ideas and teach us to boldly affront counter-arguments with evidence. While studying the history of Jihad and terrorism abroad, recognizably from a place of comfort in the classroom, we suddenly found ourselves in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing. Prof. Schmalz extended his office hours to make sense of the attacks together, with many of us having loved ones affected. His sense of understanding and perspective helped us all navigate that time more peacefully. I still carry his thoughtful mentorship with me as I move through life as an artist, educator, and deeply reflective thinker with an empathic heart.

What is one way you think contemplating art can nourish our spiritual lives? 

Art is breath for me. Art is every waking bit of light around. Art is meaningful conversation, something made visible, heard, or felt from a human’s perspective. I do not believe art is confined to the beautiful or the physical—for me it is healing, and it can be even more broadly defined by the challenging, frightening, and uncomfortable exchanges that happen when we experience each other’s worlds. These experiences feed our spiritual lives. Art is the lens through which we process everything. 

March 20 - Julia Covelle ‘22

Artwork by Julia Covelle

Untitled, 2021
Oil on Canva
50 x 50 inches

Artist Bio:

Julia Covelle Headshot

Julia Covelle ‘22 is a senior studio art and sociology major from Wakefield, Massachusetts. Visual art has always been an important aspect of Julia’s life but has turned into a passion that she has been able to cultivate within the Holy Cross community. Painting has become the forefront of her academic experience, as well as a way she has begun to process the world. She looks to the people and places around her, drawing inspiration from the fruitful moments of her life. Reflecting on the relationships she has built and experiences around her, she is inspired by creating artwork as an observation and tribute to the people and places that make her life meaningful. 

What are you studying at Holy Cross and what was the most transformative course you have taken?

I have a sociology and visual studio art double major. The most transformative courses I have

taken so far have been Social Theory and Painting 1. Social theory opened my eyes to others and helped give me the tools in order to understand and examine the injustices in the world around me, while Painting 1 opened my eyes to my own abilities exposing me to an entirely new medium changing the course of my academic focus.

What is one way your artistic practice has fed your spiritual journey?

I find art to be entirely spiritually enriching because it prompts reflection and thought. I have always found the process of creating to be meditative, forcing me to slow down my thoughts, re-setting myself into a self-reflective and focused mode. I think art has an ability to help us process and articulate the sometimes abstract concepts of spirituality in a way that words can not.

April 9 - Peter Fritz

Artwork by Peter Fritz

Scattered, Gathered, 2022
Graphite on Bristol vellum paper

Artist Bio: 

Peter Fritz Self Portrait

Peter Fritz is an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Holy Cross. In addition to being a teacher and scholar of Catholic theology, he is a visual artist with a bachelor's degree in Fine Arts Studio from Loyola University Chicago. His drawings and paintings attempt, through careful layering of pencil and pigment, to imitate the way that images emerge from the ground that underlies them. While preferring to depict plants, animals, rocks, and water, he indulges in occasional references to the human world: architecture or, with a nod to artistic tradition, self-portraits. He prizes attention to detail, whether in terms of the interaction of color (in more abstract moments), or structures and textures (in more realistic ones). His artistic practice is, then, meditative and contemplative. The attentiveness that he exercises carries a social, political, and religious message: fostering vigilance with regard to minute, inconspicuous details can help to shape alertness toward the needs of the least among us, and toward the God who remains unseen, but toward whom it behooves us to cry out in supplication and praise, for doing so sustains hope.

What did you study in college and what was the most transformative course you took?

I double-majored in Fine Arts Studio and Theology at Loyola University Chicago. While I received a tremendous education, with the majority of credit due to my mentors, the artist Patricia Hernes and the priest-theologian Mark McIntosh, a single course stands out as most transformative: Color Theory, with a brilliant professor and designer named Frank Vodvarka. That course more than any other taught me to be attentive and meticulous; craftsmanship and thinking were melded, as my fellow students and I spent countless hours studying the interaction of colors through the practice of cutting colored papers, juxtaposing them in tightly-structured arrangements, and dismantling and reassembling these constructions to achieve more compelling results. Color theory gave me an eye for subtlety, for nuance, for sophistication—not because my classmates and I were doing anything momentous, but precisely because we were allowing ourselves to undergo the saturated experience that can come in with a mundane activity like slicing paper with an X-Acto knife and adhering it to a board with rubber cement. I keep a couple of my completed projects from this course in my office at HC, to remind me always to be attentive.

What is one way your artistic practice has fed your spiritual journey?

For those of us who are Christian, it may be helpful when viewing visual art to remember that Jesus is described in Paul's Letter to the Colossians as the "image of the invisible God" (Col 1:15). And there's the famous line from John's Gospel: "No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who makes him known" (Jn 1:18). Images carry enhanced meaning for Christians, since Jesus images God for us. This isn't just about seeing, but all our senses, whether we number them as five or more: God came to meet us sensibly. In Christ, God "abbreviated" God's infinity, as an old Christian tradition puts it, so that we could perceive the imperceptible divine. This was a great act of love. So when I view art—when I'm feeling my best, of course—even secular art, I am reminded of a God who wanted so desperately for us to feel God's love that God met us through our senses, the only way that we experience or know anything in the first place. Art appeals to us; so does God. For me, contemplating art and cultivating spirituality are intertwined activities; simple as that.

April 17 - Maggie O’Neill ‘99

Artwork by Maggie ONeil

Flynn’s Jefferson Memorial
Acrylic paint on canvas
32” H x 48” W x 1.5” D

Artist Bio: 

Maggie ONeill Headshot

Maggie O’Neill ‘99 is an artist, designer, and creative entrepreneur proudly based in Washington, D.C. Maggie is the co-founder of SWATCHROOM a creative agency specializing in hospitality, art, and community. Maggie is a nationally recognized artist, specializing in pop impressionist paintings and mixed media work, and public art. In addition to her work, Maggie supports several charitable causes and believes in paying it forward to both aspiring artists and her community alike.

What did you study at Holy Cross and what was the most transformative course you took?

I was a Poli-Sci undergrad with a focus in African American and Women’s Studies. Surprisingly, I did not major or minor in art. The most transformative course I took at Holy Cross was taught by Cornel West my senior year. It changed my opinion and views on how to show up in the world. 

What is one way your artistic practice has fed your spiritual journey?

When you are the audience of art, you are naturally brought into a subconscious relationship with whatever you are looking at as the viewer. To me, that moment of subconsciousness is probably the closest thing you can get to prayer or meditation. You are suspended in a moment, and when you experience art there is a solitude that exists in that moment.