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Biographical Note | A Finding Aid to the Emmy Lou Packard papers, 1900-1990 | Digitized Collection

Emmy Lou Packard papers, 1900-1990

Biographical Note

Emmy Lou Packard was born in Imperial Valley, California on April 15, 1914, to Walter and Emma Leonard Packard. In the late 1920s she lived with her family in Mexico City where she became acquainted with Diego Rivera, from whom she received regular art criticism and encouragement. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley and completed courses in fresco and sculpture at the California School of Fine Arts in 1940. That year and the next, Packard worked as a full-time painting assistant to Rivera on his 1,650 square-foot fresco at the World's Fair in San Francisco. During this project, Packard became very close to Rivera and Frida Kahlo and returned to Mexico with them and spent a year living with the couple.
From then on, except for in 1944-1945 working for a defense plant, Packard worked and grew in various aspects of her art. In addition to her work in fresco, Packard is known for her work in watercolor, oil, mosaic, laminated plastic, concrete, and printmaking, both in linocuts and woodblocks. She received numerous commissions that included installations for ships, hotels, and private homes for which she executed large woodcuts and mural panels. During the 1950s and 1960s, Packard was hired to restore several historic murals, most notably the Rincon Annex Post Office mural by Anton Refregier and the Coit Tower murals in San Francisco.
Between 1966 and 1967 she was commissioned by architects to design and execute a number of concrete and mosaic pieces, one of which went to the Mirabeau Restaurant in Kaiser Center, Oakland. She also designed and executed a mural for the Fresno Convention Center Theater during that same period. In 1973-1974, she designed and supervised a glazed brick mural for a public library in Pinole, California.
Packard had one-woman shows at the San Francisco Museum of Art, Raymond and Raymond Gallery (San Francisco), Addison Gallery of American Art (Andover, Mass.), Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts, Pushkin Museum (Moscow), and March Gallery (Chicago). Emmy Lou Packard died in 1998.