Mary Ann Bransby, Artist and Educator Daughter of Joe and Lillian Hemmie Mary Ann was precocious as a child and teenager, excelling in crafts, sports and music including leathersmithing, archery, fencing and violin. She received a scholarship to the Kansas City Art Institute where she studied silversmithing and-as a pupil of Thomas Hart Benton-mastered the art of watercolor painting. Mary Ann married fellow student Eric Bransby during her senior year at the Institute a mere two weeks before Pearl Harbor. Their union would span 70 years. While her husband served in the army, Mary Ann designed parts and the die forms for B-52 bombers. In June of 1943 Mary Ann gave birth to a beautiful daughter Fredericka. Mary Ann resumed her art studies at the end of W.W. II, moving with her family to Colorado Springs to attend the Broadmoor Academy under the direction of Boardman Robinson at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. In early 1946 the Bransby's broke ground for a permanent residence starting construction of a home and studios. Mary Ann added lapidary work to her burgeoning practice of silversmithing. In 1946 Mary Ann began a study of ceramics at Yale University while her husband studied and taught there. She continued her study of ceramics and silversmithing at the University of Illinois in Urbana. A family crisis in 1953 necessitated her family's return to the Colorado Springs area with an asthmatic child. Fredricka's cure-in part-was a children's program in horsemanship initiated by Mary Ann and her dear friend Ava Heinrichsdorff. In 1956 Mary Ann and Eric taught at Brigham Young University. In 1965, while her husband joined the faculty of the University of Missouri in Kansas City, Mary Ann spent her first three years there completing her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Fine Art. Mary Ann then taught at Donnelly College and at the graduate level at UMKC. She initiated an interdisciplinary program involving the Art, Music and Dance Departments of the University entitled "Choreographing the Object." The resulting performance exhibited throughout the Midwest and notably at the College Arts Association's annual meeting in New York where the presence of Joan Mondale as well as a representative of Good Morning America lead to the subsequent airing of "Choreographing the Object" on Good Morning America. In 1984 when Mary Ann retired--returning to Colorado Springs--a strong and supple line appeared in her metal work. Art Critic Mark Arnest noted that when she turned with renewed interest to the watercolor medium, she began utilizing the same forceful line-this time augmented by a strong creative approach to the use of color. Mary Ann continued teaching. She organized two exhibiting and educational organizations-The Pikes Peak Watercolor Society and the Chromatic Edge. Biographical citations are found in the Fine Arts Center's exhibit catalogs "The Broadmoor Academy" and "From Roots to Soaring Visions"-a two person retrospective as well as in the Albrecht Kemper Museum's catalog "Under the Influence: The Students of Thomas Hart Benton." A memorial service celebration of her life will be held at Shove Chapel at Colorado College on Friday September 9th at 2:00 pm. Donations may be made in Mary Ann's memory to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Mary Ann leaves behind her daughter Fredericka Fiechter, her grandson Alexis Fiechter and her loving husband Eric Bransby who found comfort in the words of author Lillian McCue's (pseudonym Lilian de la Torre's) words on the loss of her husband: "Of all the manifold gifts that I gave you The last, and best, is this: to outlive you To take on myself in bereavement to live. Farewell, beloved. Accept what I give."
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Published in The Gazette on Aug. 28, 2011