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Wilhelmina Godfrey

Wilhelmina Godfrey

(1914-1994)
American
Born: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America

Born in Philadelphia, but raised and educated in Buffalo, Wilhelmina Godfrey was a painter, weaver, printmaker, teacher, crafts consultant and writer. She was a graduate of painting from the Albright Art School, attended the Art Institute of Buffalo, and studied at the School for American Craftsmen at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She taught painting and drawing at the Michigan Avenue YMCA in 1951. She became interested in weaving in 1958, after being inspired by an exhibition in Rochester. She organized State University of New York at Buffalo’s weaving program, and was a teacher at their Creative Craft Center from 1967 to 1970. In addition, she taught art classes at the Community Center for St. Philip’s Episcopal Church. In 1974 she received a fellowship to study at the prestigious Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine.

Godfrey’s paintings often depicted the African American experience living on Buffalo’s East Side, and her weavings usually reflected African motifs. As teacher and artist, Godfrey won respect from the arts community and served as a role model for young African Americans. In 1979, she presented at the National African American Crafts Conference Symposium. Her presentation was titled “The Negro Slave Crafts Workers of North and South Carolina.” The Arts Council in Buffalo and Erie County and Greater Buffalo Chamber of Commerce acknowledged Godfrey’s lifetime achievements with the bestowal of an Individual Professional Arts Award in 1990. During that same year, Medaille College presented an exhibition of her work. The Burchfield Penney Art Center acquired examples of Godfrey’s paintings and weavings for its collection, her prize-winning painting City Playground, as well as fifteen preliminary studies she made for it.