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Elizabeth Colwell
Birth Date: 
Birth Place: 
Bronson, Mich.
Death Date: 
Death Place: 
Chicago [?]
A painter, printmaker, typography designer and author, Elizabeth Colwell is remembered for her watercolors, etchings and woodcuts. Born in the southern Michigan town of Bronson in 1881, Colwell studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) and learned Japanese woodcut techniques from B. J. O. Norfeldt (1878-1955) in his studio in the South Side neighborhood of Chicago. In a biographical submission to the AIC she noted that she also studied while traveling abroad. She worked in advertising in Chicago for such clients as the Marshall Fields department store and the Cowan Company furniture store. She was known for her hand-lettered newspaper advertisements and designed a typeface called “Colwell Hand Letter.” She exhibited her prints and watercolors at shows at the AIC from 1909 to 1934. Colwell received a bronze medal for the fourteen prints she exhibited at San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915. Colwell’s work was exhibited in Rome, Italy in 1911, New York City in 1915 and 1916, Boston in 1920, and in a solo show at Chicago’s Rouillier Art Gallery in 1916. She published books of her poetry with hand-lettered text and her own illustrations in 1907 and 1909, and the volume On the Making of Wood-Block-Color Prints in 1910. Colwell was a member of the Chicago and New York Societies of Etchers and the Chicago Society of Artists. She worked for the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration around 1937 and her work appeared in the “Art for the People by Chicago Artists of the Federal Art Project/WPA” at the AIC in 1938. The Library of Congress mounted an exhibition of her work in Washington in 1945. Colwell died in 1954, probably in Chicago. (TNB 12/2014) Selected bibliography: Falk, Peter Hastings, ed. Who Was Who in American Art, p. 125. Madison, Conn.: Sound View Press, 1985. Petteys, Chris. Dictionary of Women Artists: An International Dictionary of Women Artists Born Before 1900. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1985.