Helen Odell Gilbert
20th century Sculptor
(1922–April 8, 2002)
In Memory of Helen Odell Gilbert-Bushnell
by Rondi Gilbert-Mauldon
She Raised 7 Kids, Got Tenure, and Exhibited Internationally!
My mother, Helen Gilbert-Bushnell, who rose to the top of her profession as a professor art and a distinguished artist, died on April 8, 2002. She was 80.
Educated at Mills College, she taught in the University of Hawaii's art department for 30 years, chairing the painting program and as serving as graduate chair. She also held appointments as visiting professor of art at Parsons School of Design and Pratt Institute in New York.
She gained a reputation as an innovative artist of exceptional range. Although her principle medium was painting, she pioneered the use of polarized light in kinetic sculpture. Her work in this area was published in limited editions by Edward Meissner Editions in Hamburg, Germany. Her work in printmaking numbers more than 100 editions, mostly involving lithography and printed over a 30-year period while she was in summer residence in France, at Atelier Pousse Caillou. Her paintings and prints have been widely exhibited nationally and internationally, including The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Solomon Guggenheim Museum, and The Metropolitan Museum in New York, The Tate Gallery in London, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Bibliotheque National in Paris, and The Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg.
A re-entry student, my mother began this illustrious career at 40, having raised 6 children, one of them adopted, and having just given birth to a seventh. Her ability to combine the roles of mother, artist, and professor make her--for me--the most exmplary woman I have ever known.
September 18, 2002