Nungester and Wolfe: A Legacy of Art
On exhibit May 5 – June 13, 2015
In the 1920s, two sisters, Frances and Mildred Nungester, grew up in a house two doors down from the Carnegie Library on Church Street. Frances had a talent for teaching and became a regionally renowned educator. Mildred became a teacher also, but her true passion was creating art.
Nungester and Wolfe: A Legacy of Art features over 50 pieces of art by Mildred Nungester Wolfe. The works are primarily from the collections of her children, Elizabeth Wolfe and Michael Wolfe. Included in the show are oil paintings, watercolor paintings, relief prints, and lithographs.
Mildred Nungester Wolfe was born in Ohio in 1912. After growing up in Decatur, Alabama, she graduated from Alabama College for Women in Montevallo. She studied at the Art Students League in New York and at the Art Institute of Chicago, and received an MFA degree from the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Mildred Nungester was married in 1944 to the late Mississippi artist Karl Wolfe, and made her home with him in Jackson, Mississippi.
Working through five decades, Mildred Wolfe experimented with and mastered a variety of media: oil, watercolor, pastel, ceramics, printmaking, mosaic, and stained glass. A portraitist of note, her portrait of Eudora Welty was purchased by the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
After Karl’s death in 1984, She shared a studio and gallery with her artist daughter, Elizabeth (Bebe) Wolfe, and was still actively painting several mornings a week until ill health and frailty finally prevented her from working at the age of 92. She died peacefully in her beloved home at the age of 96 in 2009.
Her work is in the collections of the Mississippi Museum of Art, the Lauren Rodgers Museum in Laurel, Mississippi, the Huntsville Museum of Art, Montgomery Museums of Art and the University of Montevallo in Alabama, the Library of Congress and the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., as well as in many distinguished private collections.
In 2005 the University Press of Mississippi published a book of her work, titled Mildred Nungester Wolfe, with an introduction by Mississippi writer Ellen Douglas. In the spring of 2009, two weeks after Mildred’s death, the Wolfe Studio received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.