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WALKER, Ella May (Jacoby)

Windom, Minnesota, 1892
Edmonton, Alberta, 1960
Biography synopsis
After moving to Saskatchewan with her family in 1902, Ella May Jacoby went to Chicago to study music and also took art courses at the Chicago Institute of Art. On returning to Canada, she continued studying as well as teaching and performing music. In 1920 she settled in Edmonton with her husband (O. Walker) and became involved in the local cultural community. Among various historical preservation projects, she wrote and illustrated a book on Edmonton's history. It was only in the 1930s when she met Arthur Lismer that she began to focus on the visual arts, working in various media, including painting, sculpture and printmaking. Walker, who won an art award in an Alberta Society of Artists open exhibition, showed her work throughout the 1930s and 1940s. While visiting Mexico in 1937, she met Diego Rivera; paintings she produced in Mexico were exhibited in Edmonton. In the 1950s she began working in abstraction after studying with Will Barnet at the Emma Lake Workshop in 1957. In 1943 she was vice-president of the Edmonton Art Club, and from 1958 to 1960 she was the president of the Alberta Society of Artists. Her works are held at the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton.
Media used
Art Institute of Chicago, 1911
Emma Lake - University of Saskatchewan Art School, 1957 - ? (under Will Barnet)
Alberta Society of Artists, 1935. 1958-1960 President
Edmonton Art Club, 1935
File & Archive locations
Art Gallery of Ontario - Edward P. Taylor Research Library and Archives
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts / Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, QC
National Gallery of Canada, ON - Library and Archives
University of British Columbia - Fine Arts Library
Winnipeg Art Gallery, MA - Clara Lander Library

Writings about
Ella May Walker Virtual Exhibit Edmonton, Alberta: Heritage, Archives and the Arts, ?
Ainslie, Patricia and Mary-Beth LaViolette. Alberta Art and Artists: An Overview Toronto: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2007
Cochran, Bente Roed. Printmaking in Alberta 1945-1985 Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1989
Collinson, Helen. "Ella May Walker: Cultural Worker before Her Time." Artichoke Fall 1993
Griwkowsky, Fish. "Conjured Images and BEHOLD|EN to Open at AGA; the List." Edmonton Journal 18 Aug 2022: A12
Griwkowsky, Fish. "Edmonton Art Club celebrates 100 Years at AGA, which it helped create." Edmonton Journal 11 Nov. 2021
LaViolette, Mary-Beth. Alberta Mistresses of the Modern, 1935-1975. Edmonton: Art Gallery of Alberta, 2012
MacDonald, Colin S. The Dictionary of Canadian Artists. (Volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker) Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 2009.
Mandel, Charles. "A Real Cultural Whirlwind Ella May Walker featured in a Retrospective Show." Edmonton Journal 9 July 1993: E12
Ryan, Janice. "The Daring Side of Alberta's Art Gender Gap; Obscurity gave Women the Freedom to Explore Modernist Innovations." Edmonton Journal 16 Mar. 2012
Townshend, Nancy. A History of Art in Alberta, 1905-1970 Calgary, Alberta: Bayeux, 2005
Zimon, Kathy E. Alberta Society of Artists: The First Seventy Years Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2000

Writings by
Walker, Ella Jacoby. Fortress North. Toronto, Ontario: T. Allen, 1947

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