Walter Feldman comes from humble roots – a working class family from Lynn, Mass. At age 8, he created his first book and he began painting at 12. By the time he was 16, he had his first show at the local library. He joined the Yale School of the Fine Arts in 1942 after high school, but his quest for an art education was delayed by the onset of World War II.
He’s a decorated war veteran – with 4 battle stars, the Purple Heart and the combat infantry badge – serving two years in the army infantry in the European theater after a semester in school. A near-death experience at the Battle of the Bulge had a lasting impact on him, affecting him even after he returned to school following his service.
He received his degree in 1950, along with the Alice Kimball English Traveling Fellowship that had him spending the next few months traveling and studying in France and Italy. He returned to Yale for his MFA in 1951 and stayed on as Instructor of Painting for the next two years. In 1952, he received the print prize at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for his wood cut “The Final Agony.” His art deals with the human condition and his service during World War II helped shape his world view.
He was further decorated at a number of national exhibitions in 1953, ’54 and ’55. In 1957, he was awarded a senior Fulbright Fellowship and worked in painting and mosaic in Rome. In that same year he was awarded the gold medal in Milan’s “Mostra International” for his self-portrait. He also received two major commissions: a multi-color woodcut for the International Graphic Arts Society and a series of exterior mosaic pavements for the new Temple Beth-El in Providence.
In 1960, he designed and executed a large exterior mosaic mural for Temple Emanu-El in Providence, which was followed in 1961 with a series of seven stained glass windows in a memorial chapel in Providence. In 1966, he painted a 32-panel mural for the new meeting hall of Temple Emanu-El in Providence.
In 1985, he began dividing his time between painting and designing and publishing artists’ books. His books are in more than 150 public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and the Albert and Victoria Museum in London.
He is now Visual Art Professor Emeritus of Brown University and continues painting and producing artists’ books despite retiring in 2007. Former Brown President Ruth Simmons says Feldman “is an artist whose work is inextricably woven into the fabric of [Brown] University and of Providence.”
Join us at 7:00 p.m. on Oct. 29 for a conversation with this renowned artist as he shares his thoughts about the creative process and discusses his current exhibit. Gallery (401), Alliance JCC, 401 Elmgrove Ave., Providence.
Alex Gaines (email@example.com) is a Planning Associate with the Jewish Alliance.
For more information: Erin Moseley at 421-4111 ext. 108 or EMoseley@jewishallianceri.org.