Friday, May 27, 2016

Laura van Pappelendam: Prolific Painter and Educator

Laura van Pappelendam

Laura Peternellie van Pappelendam was an educator and an artist. She was dedicated to ensuring that the study of art become a legitimate component of liberal arts curriculum.

van Pappelendam grew up in Keokuk, Iowa. Following her graduation from the local high school in 1902, she attended classes at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1904 until her graduation in 1909. She continued her education and won honorable mentions along the way in 1910, 1911, 1912, and 1917 until she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art Education in 1926.

Pappelendam had a nearly life-long association with the Art Institute of Chicago, first as student, artist and then, as an instructor there for fifty years. Van Pappelendam earned a doctorate in 1929 from the University of Chicago, where she helped establish both the Department of Art in 1924 and the Renaissance Club, and then taught in the University Department of Art part time from 1919 to 1948.

Laura van Pappelendam
ca. 1925
24 x 20 inches
Oil on canvas
Oak Park Art League
During the 1920s, van Pappelendam began to spend her summers painting in New Mexico. The west offered women an escape from the prevailing societal assumptions that they were delicate creatures with fragile mental and physical constitutions. The opportunity to travel, to explore, and to adapt to a new environment had a great deal of appeal and empowered women in their personal and professional lives. Traveling by car during the summer of 1920, van Pappelendam wrote, " I was wild about these camping/painting trips. Generally my younger brother went with me. We camped in all kinds of conditions and places. Snakes have come up in tent rooms when we camped over their holes...There is no better way to see the landscape than to be sleeping out."

Laura van Pappelendam
Weeding the Garden
ca. n.d.
30 x 24 inches
Oil on canvas
Her other western expeditions included visits to Colorado, California and Santa Fe which she used as a base for visits to Arizona, Utah, and Nevada. A prolific artist, her works included impressionistic views of everyday life in the region as well as landscapes and flower studies.

Laura van Pappelendam
Around the Birdhouse
ca. 1942-44
29 x 36.5 inches
Oil on canvas, mounted on board
Laura van Pappelendam's exhibition history was immense. She participated in more than 250 while teaching at the Art Institute of Chicago, the City Art Museum, St. Louis, Women Painters of America, Wichita, Kansas, the Sesquicentennial International Exhibition in Philadelphia, Women's International Exhibition, Detroit, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh and the Whitney Museum of American Art, Riverside Museum, and Academy of Allied Arts, all in New York among others. van Pappelendam enjoyed an extended solo show at the U.S. Embassy Residence in Dublin from 1957 to 1962.
Laura van Pappelendam
Anne on the Patio
ca. 1960
Oil on canvas
For additional paintings, see Laura's work on Flicker posted by her great nephew, Ben McLeod:

An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West, Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick, University of Texas Press, 1998, pages 316-317
Independent Spirits: Women Painters of the American West, Patricia Trenton, ed., University of California Press, 1995, pages 156, 164, 171, 172.
Laura van Pappelendam's Paintings,, retrieved May 27, 2016.