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Dorothy Bearnson


1921 - 2015 Obituary Condolences
Dorothy Bearnson Obituary
Dorothy Bearnson passed away April 13, 2015 surrounded by her family.
Few people are blessed to live an entire life on their own terms. Dorothy was one of the privileged few. Born on September 26, 1921 in Salt Lake City, Utah to Julius Benedict and Margaret Sherrod Bearnson, Dorothy was a world renowned artist, scholar and pioneer in the development of ceramic arts.
She earned her BA and MA degrees in 1943 and 1945, respectively, from the University of Utah. She performed graduate study with a Fulbright Grant in Ceramics from 1956-57 where she studied at the Arabia Porcelain Factory in Helsinki, Finland. During the summers of 1947, 1949, 1950, 1952, 1958, 1961, and 1964 she studied with renowned ceramicist Marguerite Wildenhain at her Pond Farm workshops in Guerneville, California; she was also a student of Shoji Hamada at San Jose State College during the summer of 1963.
Dorothy established the Ceramics Area in the Art Department at the University of Utah in 1946, teaching at the University for more than fifty years. Though initially hired to teach drawing and design, she developed expertise in pinching, coiling and slab building. Under Dorothy's expert guidance, a fully equipped ceramics studio was established at the University of Utah, finally located in an art and architecture complex completed in 1970-71. Dorothy organized the first pottery seminars and glass blowing workshops at the University of Utah. During her tenure at the University of Utah, Dorothy invited world-renowned artists to present at the University, greatly enhancing the reputation of the University. Dorothy wrote countless proposals to receive research grants such as the Dee Grant from the Council of Dee Fellows to establish a Ceramics Center and initiate a summer seminar on American Ceramic Art History in 1992. She was Utah's first recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts grant to sponsor an "Artists, Critics, Photographers in Residence Program" at the University of Utah in 1974.
Throughout the 1970's, Dorothy received several research grants from the University of Utah to work on ceramic glazes, and to study the relationship of crystalline glazes to wheel-thrown forms in 1980-88. During her career, Dorothy earned numerous awards. She was elected to Phi Kappa Phi, the National Honor Society at the University of Utah in 1997. She was made an honorary member of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) in 1991. She also received a Distinguished Woman Award for "Women in Art" at a National Woman's Conference at the University of Utah in 1977. In 1999, she was awarded the 10th Governor Award celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Utah Arts Council. Dorothy also received the University of Utah Outstanding Alumnus Award in 1999.
A number of retrospective exhibitions have been held to recognize her work such as "Dorothy Bearnson Celebrates Fifty Years of Teaching" organized by the Gittins Gallery at the University of Utah Art Department in 1997. In 2002, the Springville Museum of Art honored Dorothy with an exhibition, "Dorothy Bearnson: One of One Hundred Most Honored Artists in Utah." Dorothy's body of work has and will continue to be exhibited in many locales at universities, galleries, and museums, concentrating on venues throughout the United States. Her art works are in collections such as the Museum of Fine Arts at the University of Utah, the Icelandic Embassy in Washington, D.C., and the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art at Utah State University in Logan, UT. Most recently, a collection of Dorothy's work appeared in "Heroes, Icons, History and Memory," an exhibition of fellows and honorary members of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts.
Dorothy is survived by her cousins, Dr. Judith Kirkendall, Katherine Crapo (Ross) and family, John Thomas Sherrod (Kathryn) and family, Paul Bearnson (Mary) and family, Hollis Hill and family, JoAnn Galloway and family, and Lee Saber (Hadley) and family, as well as many, many special friends, neighbors, and family members.
A special thank you to JoAnn and Amanda Galloway who spent countless hours over the years caring for Dorothy. Though Dorothy never had children, Amanda (who she called "my sweet girl") occupied a very special place in Dorothy's heart. Amanda was the closest person Dorothy had to a grandchild.
A funeral service will be held at Wasatch Lawns Memorial Park, 3401 South Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, on Sunday, April 19, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. Friends may call an hour before the service. A reception celebrating Dorothy's life will be held in the spring of 2015 at the University of Utah Department of Fine Arts. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Wells Fargo Bank's Julius Bearnson Family Endowed Graduate Fellowship in Ceramics c/o the University of Utah.
Published in Salt Lake Tribune from Apr. 17 to Apr. 18, 2015
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