Jessica Stehlik

BFA | Painting & Drawing


My name is Jessica Stehlik and I am from Chicago, Illinois, where I enjoy reading, painting, and spending time with my family. I am currently a BFA at the University of Notre Dame with a concentration in Painting and Drawing. I have felt particularly drawn to religious themes since I began making art in grade school and a big focus of my work is the physical and emotional transformation process I go through when creating reference images for my paintings. While these paintings are less gory than my typical style, the challenge was to create subtle shifts of emotion for the audience to ponder further what each woman is experiencing in their individual moments. After graduation, I am moving back home to Chicago and working at a hospital system with the hopes of beginning a nursing program in Spring 2025. 


As is so often in a faith journey, my Catholic experience has ebbed and flowed through crests of joy and confidence and troughs of doubt and despair. Yet, through it all, I turned to the Bible for guidance and comfort, specifically the stories from my childhood of the great feminine figures of Ruth, Mary, and Veronica. This work shows how each of these women represent the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love and how their stories are reflected through the women in my own life.

After becoming a widow, Ruth journeyed to Bethlehem, where she voluntarily worked in the fields to help the other harvesters instead of taking her normal mourning period. Here, pictured like my younger sister in agricultural clothes and holding freshly harvested barley, Ruth embodies physical strength and pure empathy. Through her sunburnt exhaustion, she smiles. 

Mary, the mother of Jesus, takes on an unfathomable suffering, apparent in the solemn and fearful clasping of her Son. It is only a mother’s fortitude that allows the lowest of pains and highest of delights of another to be experienced so fully. My own mother tells me that through her eyes, we are back in infant form as we experience the highs and lows of life.

After Jesus falls while carrying the cross, Veronica voluntarily walks out of the crowd and wipes His bloodied face, one of the few willing to offer Him dignity despite the crowd. Veronica, here, is a hospice nurse, a profession whose power lies in silent patience and perseverance to care for the forgotten and ignored. I see this in my older sister, as she takes care of those around her with grace and without complaint. In Veronica’s gentle eyes, she offers a supportive understanding to those overlooked. 


Reflections of Faith, Hope, and Love