February 2017

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Hildreth Meière

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Walls Speak: The Narrative Art of Hildreth Meière

Hildreth Meière was born in New York in 1892. Educated at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Manhattanville (present-day Harlem), New York, she began her study of art in Florence, Italy. Meière continued her studies at the Art Students League, New York; the California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco; the New York School of Applied Design for Women; the Art Institute of Chicago; and the Beaux Arts Institute of Design in New York, where her work was critiqued by the muralist Ernest Peixotto. It was he who introduced Meière to the architect Bertram G. Goodhue. During World War I, Meière was trained as a map maker and became an architectural draftsman in the Navy.

Meière’s prominence as an artist was well acknowledged during her lifetime. She was the first woman ever appointed to the New York City Art Commission. She served four terms as President of the National Society of Mural Painters, six terms as First Vice President of the Architectural League of New York, and one term as President of the Liturgical Arts Society. For five years she was the Director of the Department of Mural Painting at the Beaux Arts Institute of Design. She also served on the boards of the Art Students League, the Municipal Arts Society, the School Art League, and the Advisory Committee of the Cooper Union Art School, all in New York.

Throughout her lifetime, Meière received numerous awards, beginning in 1928 with the Architecture League of New York’s Gold Medal in Mural Decoration for her work at the Nebraska State Capitol. Meière became an associate member of the National Academy of Design in 1942. Four years later, she received an award from the U.S. War Department for outstanding services through the Citizens Committee for the Army and Navy, of which she was vice president and director of the Artists Committee. Manhattanville College awarded Meière an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 1953. That same year she became an honorary member of the Church Architectural Guild of America. Meière was the first woman artist to receive the Fine Arts Medal of the American Institute of Architects in 1956. In 1959, Meière received a distinguished service award from her alma mater, Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart.

By Catherine Coleman Brawer, curator of the exhibition Walls Speak: The Narrative Art of Hildreth Meière

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