Kneeling Nun Mountain by John Stermer

Kneeling Nun Mountain – A Favorite Subject

Introducing a Favorite Subject

I would like to share with you three versions of one of John Stermer’s favorite subjects: the Kneeling Nun Mountain of Grant County, NM.


To explain, the artist (Dad) and his family moved to Grant County, NM in December 1959.  He lived in this southwest corner of New Mexico for the remainder of his life.

Kneeling Nun Mountain Landmark.

One of the county’s landmarks is Kneeling Nun Mountain.  The mountain overlooks an open pit copper mine operated by Kennecott Chino Mines Division, where John Stermer, along with many Grant County Residents, worked in the 60s and 70s.  Plus, there are several hills in the area upon which you can see the Kneeling Nun. 

Legend Of The Kneeling Nun.

As an aside, there is a legend that goes along with the mountain and I remember hearing about it as a child.  It involves a nun (Sister Santa Rita), conquistadors and forbidden love.  In the end, the nun, Santa Rita,turns to stone.

Where the legend came from, I’m not sure.  However, it has stuck and become part of local lore.  And, the town that used to be below the mountain was called Santa Rita after the nun.

Kneeling Nun Mountain

Kneeling Nun Mountain As Motif.

In any case, Dad’s favorite motifs included this mountain.  Since you can see it from so many places, it provides endless possibilities as a subject.

Kneeling Nun Mountain.  Speaking of favorites, the first painting “Kneeling Nun Mountain” is a one of mine.  When I see the painting, I have an immediate emotional response.  Perhaps that is because it captures the vast loneliness of the desert Southwest United States.  Or, maybe it the intensity of nature.  


Kneeling Nun Mountain In January

Ft. Bayard In January.  One of the beauties of painting landscapes is that with each season the subject changes yet again.  Dad (John Stermer) painted this version in winter.  And, this particular painting is one of a series of Kneeling Nun paintings that he did out at the Ft. Bayard golf course.  It had an especially nice view of the mountain.  And, since the golf course tended to be a quiet place, (it was an old course with sand “greens”), it was a good place to draw and paint.

Kneeling Nun, Ink Drawing.  On to the third and final Kneeling Nun Mountain I’d like to share with you. It is an ink drawing.  Incidentally, Kennecott Chino Mines Division used this drawing as one of their holiday greeting cards back in the 1960s.  At the time, the corporation owned the Santa Rita mine of Santa Rita NM. 

Kneeling Nun Mountain and Pondarosa Pine


If you’re interested in the legend, I would invite you to check out these two articles.  

“Southwest Crossroads – The Kneeling Nun”

Silver City Daily Press:  “A Piece of History: Bayard Students Learn About Kneeling Nun”.

Thank you and I hope that you have enjoyed my musings!

~Peggy, one of John Stermer’s daughters.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!
Scroll to Top