Emmy Lou Packard Biography

Emmy Lou Packard




Emmy Lou Packard was born on April 4, 1914 in El Centro, Imperial Valley, California. Packard became one of the most noted American fresco artists and printmaking pioneers in California in the 20th Century. Packard's visual expression and courageous voice earned her international recognition as an artist and activist for peace. Marked by an early encounter with Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, her trajectory evolved from assisting Rivera with mural painting, to her own painting and print exhibitions and fresco projects. This revolutionary influence allowed for her vocal and uncompromising disapproval of several issues, including human rights violations, WWII and the American-Soviet "Cold" and Vietnam wars.

As a teenager, before her formal art education, Packard studied with Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Mexico from 1927-1928. She received her B.A. from UC Berkeley in 1936, and went onto study at the California School of Fine Arts. In 1940 she assisted Rivera in creating the 1,650 square foot fresco at the Golden Gate Intermational Exposition at Tresure Island in San Francisco, and returned with him to Mexico City, where she was a guest of Rivera and Frida Kahlo. During WWII she worked for a Richmond, California newspaper as a writer and illustrator in California. During this time she also became a human rights activist, fighting for the rights of women and children, and steadfastly supporting the leadership of Cesar Chavez and the United Farmworkers. Meanwhile, Packard's studies of the Mendocino Headlands for her artwork eventually inspired her to become a key promoter in the establishment of the headlands as a National Park.

Along with the manifest social and humanitarian issues, Emmy Lou Packard's work reflects the spirituality of someone born and raised in a land situated at the confluence of two cultures. The American heritage and the Mexican experiences emerge from her work in a peaceful coexistence, displayed beautifully in the color and form of her prints.

Emmy Lou Packard died in San Francisco, California on February 22, 1988.