Sister Karlyn Cauley’s watercolor “ladies” find a permanent home

Proud Lady: One of the Watercolor Women Series by Sr. Karlyn Cauley, SDS

Through the generous philanthropy of Kohler Foundation, Inc., Sister Karlyn Cauley, SDS will enjoy wider exposure for her 17 framed original watercolors known as the “Woman Series.” The collection was recently installed in the 3rd floor corridor of the Art and Cultures Gallery at Alverno College in Milwaukee.

Art Department Professor Lynda Sommers directs the Art & Cultures Gallery at Alverno. She shares why she felt the gallery is a fitting home for Sr. Karlyn’s collection.

“I selected the artwork on the basis of her excellent attention to details, intriguing patterns and the subject matter. One can certainly immerse oneself in her work. It’s outstanding!” Prof. Sommers says a public viewing of “Woman Series” will be announced for fall 2018, possibly in conjunction with Alverno’s homecoming weekend.

From a distance, the big beautiful women in Sr. Karlyn’s watercolors are a dramatic departure from much of her past work. A closer look reveals the flora and fauna of her signature Shaker folk art in the saris, marriage shawls and head-wraps of the ethnic women we meet in her “Woman Series.”

Woman in Meditation: One of the Watercolor Women Series by Sr. Karlyn Cauley, SDS

According to Sr. Karlyn, “The series unfolded one at a time. Each of the women surprised and attracted me. I felt solidarity with the woman I was painting and a communion with her culture and the natural world in which I imagined her to have lived. I felt a connection to the complexities of poverty or isolation, of being separated from or with her children, of being honored and provided for, of living with great simplicity or with a certain elegance of spirit.”

Sr. Karlyn is grateful for the efforts of Kohler Foundation, Inc. and Alverno College to help her art work reach a wider audience. A gift from Kohler Foundation, Inc. made it possible. Susan Kelly, senior preservation coordinator, says the foundation began in 1940 for the purpose of art preservation. Later, it branched out, offering scholarships and grants and hosting performing arts series. While totally separate from the Kohler Co. and John Michael Koehler Art Museum, all three have their beginnings with the Kohler family.

You can view, and purchase, many of Sr. Karlyn’s art on her website,


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