Betty Grisham, Mushroom Study, 1966, gouache and ink on paper, 18 x 27.75 in. Gift of Betty Grisham.
Betty Grisham, Converging Patterns, circa 1975, silk gros point, 19 x 17.25 in. Gift of Betty Grisham.
The Museum is pleased to have this opportunity to present a memorial exhibition of artworks by beloved Huntsville artist and arts advocate Betty Grisham, who passed away last year at the venerable age of 99. A North Alabama native, she earned her BA in Fine Art and Education at Montevallo College in 1942, and MA in Fine Art Education from Columbia University Teachers College in 1945. After teaching and exhibiting in Atlanta and Birmingham, she settled in Huntsville in 1963, where she continued to experiment with textiles and the applied arts including needlepoint, rug making and fabric design. Her unique garments for the commercial market were sold in New York and elsewhere, and she founded a business designing custom hand painted and printed fabrics for interior design. Grisham also became an important advocate of the Huntsville Art League, as well as a key supporter and patron of the Huntsville Museum of Art. She retired in the mid 1990s and continued to work from her home studio on paintings, wall hangings and needlepoints for many years.
Grisham’s art was often inspired by the colors and shapes of nature, interpreted through her lively imagination and confident use of abstraction. She easily moved between bold drama and poetic restraint in her works, and the Museum’s collection of 24 paintings, textiles, prints and collages exemplify her broad skill set. Her artworks are uniquely personal, combining traditional handwork like embroidery and fabric dying with abstracted, bold patterning. Reflecting upon what inspired her creativity, the artist once said: “Winter’s fiery sunsets, I see and enjoy them every day. Then I do drawings that become other works. Things that are growing — nature, I come back to it more and more. Changes of the seasons and the subtlety of nature inspire my work. I have studied art history and see great value in all periods. Georgia O’Keeffe was an influence. Inspiration comes from many sources.”