An interview of Walter Nottingham conducted 2002 July 14-18, by Carol Owen, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, at the studios of Idyllwild Arts, in Idyllwild, California. Nottingham speaks of his enthusiasm for basketball; being an altar boy and, as such, surrounded by beautiful fabrics at an early age; attending St. Cloud State University on the GI Bill; his teachers Jim Crane and Pauline Penning; serving as an art consultant for public schools in Jackson, Michigan; the lasting influence of an exhibition of battle flags at the Metropolitan Museum; articulating aging and decay through self-taught weaving; developing a fiber art program at University of Wisconsin, River Falls; attending Cranbrook Academy of Art and working with Glen Kaufman and Meda Johnson. He discusses specific works including his "Yahooties", that combine both his grandmother's and mother's crochet work; his trip to Mexico City on a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1974; forming the company Off the Wall with his eldest daughter Karron and their decorative design commissions; the influence of his Catholic upbringing, oriental philosophy, and spirituality in his work; and techniques and materials. Nottingham recalls Shelly Ross, Helen Drutt, Francis Merritt, Don Miller, Lois Moran, Jack Lenor Larsen, Marianne Strengell, Mildred Constantine, Gerhardt Knodel, Lee Nordness, Ed Rossbach, and others.
Biographical / Historical:
Walter Nottingham (1930-2012) is a fiber artist from Hilo, Hawaii. Carol Owen is a fiber artist from Pittsboro, North Carolina.
Originally recorded on 3 sound discs. Reformatted in 2010 as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 1 hr., 41 min.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.