Cecil C. Carstenson (1906-1991) and Blanche Williams Carstenson (1907-2002) Papers (1009kc)
Blanche Emily Williams Carstenson was born in Gray County, KS, in 1907. She married Cecil C. Carstenson in 1927.
Blanche's first love was music but her artistic creativity developed in parallel to Cecil's talents as wood sculptor. She worked with paint, printmaking, collage, and assemblage but is best known for her textile artworks employing traditional needlework skills in highly creative ways. In the mid-1970s, the Blanche and Cecil had a two-person show at the Kansas City Artists Coalition. IN addition, Blanche exhibited throughout the Midwest, including at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the B'nai Jehudah Temple, Unitarian Gallery, and the Kansas City Artist's Coalition. She helped found the Mid-America Annual Exhibition at the Nelson Art Museum and served as Director for eight years. She founded the Unitarian Gallery in the early 1960s, and was a guiding force in the Kansas City Artist's Coalition. She taught printmaking, batik, and gave art lectures. She managed the career of her husband, Cecil and remained active throughout her life in the Unitarian Gallery, Kansas Artist's Coalition, Kansas City Musical Arts, University Women's Club, Roanoke Association, Demeters, and All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church. Blanche died at the age of 95 on October 2, 2002, in Denver, CO where she resided with her daughter, Dee.
Cecil C. Carstenson was born in Marquette, KS, but lived most of his life in Kansas City. He was a lieutenant colonel in the Army Air Forces in World War II and received the Legion of Merit and an air medal with three clusters. He had attended Finlay Engineering College. He worked for Western Electric Company for 36 years and retired as a shop superintendent in 1962.
More importantly Carstenson was a sculptor for 50 years, working exclusively in wood for his last 40 years. His work has been displayed in more than 25 museums, colleges and public buildings, including the Nelson Gallery; the Phoenix Museum; the Josyln Museum in Omaha, NE; the University of Missouri-Kansas City; St. Benedict's College in Atchison, KS; the Birger Sandzen Gallery of Art in Lindsborg, KS; and the Missouri State Historical Society Gallery, Columbia, and at the Kansas City Art Institute and the Wichita Museum of Art. He exhibited sculptures in the Missouri Pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair in New York.
Carstenson taught sculpture at the University of Kansas City and conducted sculpture workshops at other colleges. He was past president of the Mid-America Artists Association and of the local chapter of the Artists Equity Association. He wrote the book Craft and Creation of Wood Sculpture (New York, Scribner, 1971).
Cecil attended the Kansas City Art Institute and the Omaha Art School, and studied with sculptors in the United States and Italy. He was a member of the Friends of Art, the Kansas City Art Institute alumni association, the Friends of UMKC Library and the Kansas City Artists Coalition.
Cecil Carstenson died Jan. 3, 1991 at the age of 84 years.
This collection contains photographs and slides of both Cecil and Blanche’s artwork. It also contains letters to various people, mostly to family while Cecil was serving during World War II. There is also a series of scrapbooks, which cover most of their adult lives. ca.1943 - ca. 2001
8 cubic feet.
© State Historical Society of Missouri
Monday, February 07, 2011
State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center-Kansas City
(816) 235-1543 WHMCKC@umkc.edu