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Myra Albert Wiggins

American, 1869-1956


Details
Born

Oregon: Salem, December 15, 1869

Died

Washington: Seattle, 1956

Active

Oregon; New York: New York

Occupation or Type

photographer

painter

Northwest artist

Oregon artist

Bio

Myra Wiggins's well-rounded art career included photography and writing, as well as painting. She left Oregon in 1891 when she went to New York to attend the Art Students League. She then returned to Oregon in 1894 and discovered photography by chance – through her brother's request for a picture of his sweetheart – and pursued it into the rarified atmosphere of the elite Photo-Secession group, organized by Alfred Steiglitz in 1902 in New York. Myra Wiggins joined two other Oregon women photographers, Lily White and Sarah Ladd, as members of this select group, numbering only 105 members nationally.

In 1907 her husband's nursery business took the family to Toppenish, Washington. Wiggins turned away from photography and concentrated on painting, writing poetry, and teaching both singing and painting. The family moved to Seattle around 1933 and there she opened a painting studio. Wiggins was one of the six founding members of the organization Women Painters of Washington. She exhibited at the Seattle Art Museum with that group in 1955. She was also a member of the Pacific Coast Association of Painters and Sculptors and the American Artists Group of New York. This organization published and sold nationally the work of American artists each year as Christmas cards. Wiggins had four of her canvases selected, one of which generated near-record sales of 90,000 cards. In spite of the enormous success she achieved in photography, Wiggins stated, in an essay written in 1939, that she considered herself "a professional painter and an amateur photographer."

Myra Wiggins continued to garner awards for her achievements in the arts; newspaper articles referred to her as "dean of Pacific Northwest women painters." Her paintings were exhibited in London, Paris, Vienna, Hamburg, The Hague, and Brussels. She had one person exhibitions in New York, Chicago, New Orleans, Seattle, Yakima, and Vancouver, B.C. In 1948 the National League of American Pen Women presented Myra Wiggins their Achievement in Art Award. A sixty-two year retrospective of her photographs and paintings was exhibited by the Seattle Art Museum in 1953, followed by a retrospective in the De Young Museum, San Francisco the next year. A biography of Myra Wiggins by Carole Glauber was published in 1997.

[Artist biography reproduced with permission from the authors, Oregon Painters: the First Hundred Years (1859-1959), Ginny Allen and Jody Klevit.]

Gender

Female

Related People

Associate of: Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946)

Related Terms
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