Dominican Arts
(Photo by Jo-Ann Innotti)

by Christine Urio

Poet and photographer Jo-Ann Innotti gave a lecture on Feb. 25 in the James Cotter Library on the importance of the arts.

Innotti shared some of her photographs and read “The Chosen,” her short story about the Annunciation from the perspective of the Angle Gabriel, as well as her poems “Unthinkable Poem,” “Reading Other Poets,” “Gently,” and “A Position of the Heart.”

“So much of art can’t be put into words; it’s all about movement, a testament of what the unconscious sees,” she said.  “But when it comes out, there is a righteousness and truth about it.

Innotti’s idea of being an artist is “about being true to yourself and doing it.  Art always involves risk because you’re putting yourself out there—but I know it’s worth it.”

Being a Dominican Sister of Hope, Innotti’s spirituality is apparent in her art and ideology. Like Frangelico, the patron saint of artists, she said that art “contributes to society” and she is inspired by his “heavenly and angelic work.”

“Preaching and studying the lifestyle of apostles, prayer, community, and knowledge is the lifestyle of a Dominican,” she said.

Innotti is passionate about learning; she finds education and prayer to be imperative to a successful future. “The more things one studies, the greater effect they will have on people…. the goal of contemplation of a Dominican Sister is that life was meant for studying and studying makes one succeed in life,” she said.

She pointed out that the motto of Mount Saint Mary College (MSMC) is a call from the students:  “Teach me the truth,” and said, “it is through this that we draw attention and attract others, hoping to connect the threads to see how we were connected to each other.”

Senior Carrie Victoria said, “I appreciated learning about how important art was to the Dominican order, and, in turn, to our college.”  She learned “art is more than what we think it is; it’s taking risks, being true to ourselves, and remembering experiences. It’s an amazing concept, and I’m thankful that our college celebrates the arts in this way.”

According to MSMC’s website, Innotti taught elementary school, and published her book “Remember, Return, Rejoice: Journeying from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.”

She has also been Associate Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Hartford, as well as a reporter and photographer for The Catholic Transcript newspaper. Her poetry has also appear in national and international magazines.

She is an alumna of MSMC with a bachelors in education and a masters in theology from Fordham University.

Iannotti is currently the Art and Spirituality Coordinator at Wisdom House Retreat and Conference Center in Litchfield, CT.