Sybil Davis Emerson Biography

Sybil Davis Emerson




Sybil Davis Emerson, painter, sculptor, muralist, and teacher, was born in Worcester, Massachusetts on 4 April 1892 to William Emerson and Alice Kniffen. In 1910, she attended Ohio State University, where she earned her Bachelors in Art and Science. She also studied the Art Students League in New York and the Académie Falguiere with Andre L’hote. Emerson moved to California and was living in Pasadena in 1918. She studied with Armin Hansen and Clayton Sumner Price in Monterey in 1921-22 and then moved north to Francisco where she taught at Lowell High School. She moved across the Bay to Berkeley in 1925, where she listed herself as a teacher and an artist “working on own account.”

In the 1930s Emerson was living and working in New York, where she exhibited at the Midtown Galleries and the Morton Gallery. In 1942 she moved to State College, Pennsylvania where she was Professor of Art Education at Pennsylvania State University until 1956. During this time she also taught summer courses at the University of Southern California in 1952 and at the California College of Arts & Crafts in Oakland, California in 1955. In 1967 she was an instructor for the summer creative arts workshop at Rutgers University. Emerson was the author/illustrator of Jaques at the Window, 1936; Pigeon House Inn, 1939, and Design: A Creative Approach, 1953. She was a member of the Eastern Artists Association, the National Art Education Association, the Committee on Art Education, United American Artists, and the American Artists’ Congress.

She exhibited extensively including with the San Francisco Art Association, 1924 (1st prize), 1944, 1947; the East-West Gallery, San Francisco, 1930; the Art Institute of Chicago, 1931, 1935; the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1938-39; National Gallery of Art, 1941; San Francisco Museum of Art, 1944; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1945; Albany Print Club, 1949; Philadelphia Print Club, 1951; and the California College of Arts & Crafts, 1955.

Sybil Davis Emerson retired to McMinnville, Oregon in 1959 where she remained until her death on September 15, 1980.