Dorothy Sturm

b. 191o, Memphis, TN, d. 1988, Memphis, TN
In art there is inevitably a seepage from your life. I believe that what happens in my work is there because it wanted to happen.
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Dorothy Sturm cultivated a unique career as a medical illustrator and nationally known, experimental artist working in collage, watercolor and enamel. She played a pivotal role in the development and advancement of contemporary art in Memphis for more than 50 years. She began practicing art as a child and moved to New York in 1929 to further her education. While there, she developed an interest in biology which led to a career as a medical illustrator. After returning to Memphis in 1934, she started teaching at the Memphis Academy of Arts and began exploring figuration and abstraction with watercolor and collage. In the 1950s, while creating stained-glass windows for a glass company, her discovery of enamel powder prompted experimentation with the medium. She soon devised her own enameling techniques to create magnificent colorful abstractions with glass. Betty Parsons of the famed eponymous New York gallery embraced her work and represented her for many years. Through the decades, she continued to create works on paper with an emphasis on pattern and symbolic elements. With ink, jewel-toned watercolors, and her uncanny design sensibility, she narrated enigmatic stories and memories of another era.

Dorothy Sturm lived and worked in Memphis most of her life. She attended the Grand Central School of Art, the Art Students League and Columbia University in New York, and taught at Memphis College of Art for decades, retiring as Professor Emeritus. She is featured in numerous public and private collections including the American Embassy, Paris; Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock; Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Gatlinburg, TN; Charleston Museum, Charleston, WV; The Chicago Art Institute, Chicago; Jean DeMenil Collection, Paris; First Tennessee Heritage Collection, Memphis; JR Hyde, III Collection, Memphis; Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis; Museum of Contemporary Crafts; National Ornamental Metal Museum, Memphis; and the Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Art, Washington, DC. Retrospectives and recent exhibitions of her work were installed at David Lusk Gallery, the University of Memphis, and the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.

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 Death Great Hart
Death Great Hart
 The Tree People
The Tree People
 Maiden Lady
Maiden Lady
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charcoal on paper, 18x9.5
c. 1868-70
 Death Great Hart
Death Great Hart
mixed media on prepared paper, 9x13.75
c. 1980
 The Tree People
The Tree People
mixed media on prepared paper, 14x12.75
c. 1981
 Maiden Lady
Maiden Lady
mixed media on prepared paper, 18.5x10
c. 1981
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enamel and glass on copper
16x19