Lush color, dynamic composition and delicate linework define Bertha Lum’s (1869-1954) prints. The daughter of amateur artists, midwestern born Bertha Lum studied design before attending figure drawing classes at the Art Institute of Chicago in the early 1900s, with Arthur Wesley Dow’s book “Composition” and its examination of Japanese composition as a direct influence. Her 1903 marriage was celebrated with a seven-week honeymoon trip to Japan, where she purchased her first set of woodcutting tools. She returned to Japan in 1907, this time for extensive training with master woodcutter Bonkotsu Igami and printer Nishimura Kamakichi. Defying the traditional roles of wife and mother, she travelled extensively. Early in her career, Lum cut her blocks and colored and printed her works herself, which earned her the title of Master Craftsman in 1908. In 1912 Lum was the only female artist to exhibit at the Tokyo International Exhibition. The 1920s and 1930s brought several exhibits and national recognition throughout America. Lum was widely published in several national publications throughout the Great Depression. She moved to China in the 1920s and would live there until 1939.
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