Whether or not you knew her as Marion Stroud, Marion Bolton –Stroud or Marion Stroud –Swingle, Kippy was the patron to hundreds of children and artists across three generations of those seeking training, knowledge and exposure through the collaborative art of fabric printing in Philadelphia.
Kippy passed away at the age of 76 on August 22nd at her summer retreat in Maine, where, for almost three decades, she oversaw “Camp Kippy” or as my wife Anne and I affectionately refer to “Kippy Camp.” While tributes will no doubt pour in attesting to her long and deep commitments to institutions such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art and The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, Kippy was a true global art citizen and most important to me a dear friend who I shared great moments during my early career in the arts.
In the spring of 1971, Kippy hired me for my first teaching position as an artist and a member of the Prints in Progress (PnP) staff. I was assigned to develop a printmaking workshop to train low-income students in the Spring Garden Community in North Philadelphia. I started the workshop with the purpose of training high school students and drop-outs in production printing, a new initiative that diverted from the standard program at PnP, which offered arts exposure classes to younger children. What I remember most from the effort to set-up the workshop was a visit Kippy and I made during that summer to a junk shop on South Street. We went there to actually buy “real junk,” a cast-iron bathtub that we would be using for the wash-out sink. The ridiculously heavy sink was the only option at the time as it was years before specialized large wash-out sinks for screen printing hit the market. Kippy, a person of obvious means, laughed and thoroughly enjoyed the unique shopping experience. For me, this was a window to her soul— a desire to experience and understand life from many angles and levels, a wish to engage diverse people through her love of art to collaborate, communicate, and open themselves to new ideas and approaches.
The world of art will duly note her talents and generosity to many institutions and the critical support she gave to new ideas and innovative artists as founder-director of the Fabric Workshop and Museum, but her passion and joy for bringing diverse people together and that laugh I heard many years ago will be my memories to cherish.
On behalf of my wife, who also worked with her in the early years and whom I met at Prints in Progress, I salute Kippy for a life with meaning and purpose, which truly impacted the world of art in America.