New Blaine parishioner connects nature with art project

Annie Woody works in her art studio at her house in New Blaine June 17. (Maryanne Meyerriecks)

Name: Annie Woody 

Parish: St. Scholastica Church, New Blaine

Age: 75

Family: Annie and her husband Dewey have a blended family of four children, 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Career: Retired controller for the Hardscrabble Country Club

Why you want to know Annie: She recently painted several murals at “The Holy Place,” a renovated 19th-century barn at Hesychia House of Prayer (see story, page 3). Her husband also has shared his talents. At St. Michael Church in Van Buren, Dewey built two blessing boxes — one for food and one for personal care donations and made handcrafted bowls for St. Scholastica Monastery’s fundraising auctions. Now retired, the two built a home on three acres, where they constructed a prayer garden with the Stations of the Cross and memorial plaques.


What feeds you spiritually?

I start each day with the quiet of the early morning, daily readings including the Rule of St. Benedict and coffee. I also spend time in the garden praying the Stations or just sitting and enjoying nature. I am so lucky living in the country where most of the sounds are from nature instead of traffic.

What brings you joy?

We enjoy having large family days where the kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews and friends come to enjoy the day with lots of food, fun and conversation. Last Thanksgiving we had family come from Texas, camping in the yard. Our nephew just bought the property next door so we will have more room for big family gatherings.

How long did it take to build your prayer garden?

I’m not really a gardener, but we cleared out a path in the woods, lining each side with stones. My family brought in the small rocks and spread them out on the pathway. We made plaques with the Station numbers and words and put them on trees along the way. We set up a memorial plaque for loved ones we’d lost, and friends have given us wind chimes and a plaque with a crucifix. We’ve been working on it for a few years, and it’s still a work in progress.

What is your background in art?

I went to trade school for saddlemaking and leather design in my 20s. I’ve worked with stained glass and have made at least a hundred rosaries. Right now, I make needle felt two-dimensional portraits of pets, working fur into the canvas with a barbed needle where it combines with other fur to form felt.

Tell us about some of your sewing projects.

When I lived in Fort Smith, I made quilts for the Hamilton Center for Child Advocacy. Now I make memory bears for a hospice in Russellville. I use a piece of clothing from the deceased family member to make a teddy bear or clothing for a store-bought teddy bear.

How did you get involved with The Holy Place?

I help Sister Anita (DeSalvo, RSM) clean the hermitages at Hesychia House of Prayer. When the sisters decided to renovate the old barn to make it into a sacred space, I offered to paint murals on the walls. The barn is made of stone with stucco on the inside. I researched on YouTube, watching different artists, learning the best supplies to use and techniques to employ. I drew some sketches on a canvas board, and they selected the ones they wanted and decided where to put them. I made them look like windows.

How do you get everything done?

We’ve always been hard workers, but at our age we don’t have the energy we used to have. We wake up early, but after an hour or so we’re ready to rest. We downsized when we retired, but living in the country as we do, we have the time and leisure to focus on what’s important. 

 —  Maryanne Meyerriecks

Maryanne Meyerriecks

Maryanne Meyerriecks joined Arkansas Catholic in 2006 as the River Valley correspondent. She is a member of Christ the King Church in Fort Smith, a Benedictine oblate and volunteer at St. Scholastica Monastery.

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