Arts and Culture / Magazine Feature

Alumna mixes religion, art at Mother Cabrini shrine

Of all the volunteer “missioners” serving at Mother Cabrini Shrine in Golden, Colo., this summer, Mary Beth Koszut is probably the only one who also has paintings on display at a major Denver gallery. Her work is featured in Collective Singular, a group show at Core New Art Space that addresses the intersection of the individual and his or her community.

“My themes worked perfectly with the show because I’m talking about balance and living in unity with God,” says Koszut (BA studio art, anthropology, ’02). “For me it’s disjointed, being in the art world and having this large religious background; they don’t necessarily really go together. So how do I balance that, and in general, how do people balance these separate parts of their lives?”

Art and religion always have been intertwined for Koszut, who grew up going to Catholic schools in the suburbs of Chicago and is now working on a master’s degree in fine arts at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. This is her second summer in a row at the shrine, where as a missioner she helps with daily chores and interacts with visitors.

“It’s been a really incredible experience,” says Koszut, 30. “It helps me to re-center myself and to really think about what’s important. Coming here and hearing all the stories of people who are struggling either with illness or with relationships or don’t have employment — it really puts things in perspective in my life and helps me to see how blessed I am.”

Koszut started off painting primarily portraits, but her work has changed since she started grad school, she says. Inspired partly by the nature around Mother Cabrini, her new work features abstract images of tree branches, roots and rocks.

“I grew up in a forest preserve and I’ve always just loved the way trees look,” she says. “I always liked the twisting and the turning of the branches — I felt it was really similar to people, to individuals, because each one was really unique and different.”

Collective Singular runs through July 25 at Core New Art Space, 900 Santa Fe Drive, Denver. Gallery hours are noon–6 p.m. Thursday, noon–9 p.m. Friday, noon–6 p.m. Saturday and 1–4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free; call 303-297-8428 or visit

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