Julia Severance

Theme/Style – Modernism, figurative art

Media – Sculptures, etchings

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.

Career Highlights –

• 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.