Artistic Focus Known
for her portrait busts and reliefs, Julia Severance was praised by her
associates at Oberlin College for her “great gifts for portraying
human character and attributes in the round or in relief” and the
fact that she was “always conspicuous for fine drawing from casts
and from nature.” She was particularly fond of children
and made their portraits one of her specialties.
• Born in Oberlin, Ohio, in 1877, Julia Gridley
Severance could draw at an early age, and attended Oberlin College from
1896 to 1900.
• After graduating from Oberlin, Severance studied in Italy, as well
as at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cleveland Art School, and the
Art Students League in New York.
• Severance designed the official Oberlin College seal which was adopted
in 1911, and in 1921 she designed the Leffingwell bronze tablet for the
Chapel of St. Mary’s School in Knoxville, Illinois.
• In 1916 Severance received first prize in sculpture at the Cleveland
Women’s Art Club.
• Severance exhibited her sculptures and etchings at the Cleveland Museum
of Art in 1925.
• Julia’s home base continued to be Oberlin, and her father, James Severance,
an administrator at the college, had a studio built for her on the campus.
For the next 30 years Julia Severance’s Oberlin studio was an active
and busy place, where she worked and held occasional exhibitions.
• Severance left Oberlin in 1938 and settled in San Diego where she remained
an active member of the art community.
• Severance exhibited at the San Diego Art Guild in 1940 and the La Jolla
Art Center in 1942.
• Julia Severance passed away in Chula Vista, California, in 1972.
Additional biographical material and full bibliographic
references are available upon request.
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