Warhawk Almanac: Catherine Crossman

[This post was researched and written by Meadow Santiago.]

Photo of Catherine Crossman
Catherine Crossman

Catherine Crossman, an artist and teacher, received her bachelor of arts degree from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, in 1928.[1] She later got her M.A. from the University of Oregon in 1938. In addition to these formal degrees, Crossman also studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Minnesota. But she didn’t stop there; Crossman also attended Harvard University on an architecture scholarship and the University of California on a fellowship.

Before coming to Whitewater in 1947, Crossman taught at schools in Idaho, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Ohio. At the time of Crossman’s arrival at the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, known then as the Wisconsin State Teachers College, the university only had two art courses available – Art Appreciation and Drawing.[2] During her 28 years here at the university, Crossman transformed the art program into a multi-faculty department and introduced many new courses, such as ceramics and weaving.[3] Through her expansion of the art department, Crossman created the Art Major on campus.[4]

The first art gallery on campus, located in Old Main, opened in 1967 and was named in her honor.[5] After the Old Main fire of 1970, the Crossman Art Gallery reopened in 1971 in the new Center of the Arts, a fitting location as she helped to design the building.[6] The Crossman Gallery provides a space for students to display their work, in particular, the senior art students’ portfolios.[7]  Apart from current students, the Crossman Gallery also shows art from local and famous artists, which are often available to purchase. [8]

Photo of Catherine Crossman at opening of Crossman Art Gallery
Catherine Crossman (middle) at the opening of Crossman Art Gallery, 1967.
Photo of Crossman Art Gallery
Crossman Art Gallery Opening Reception, 1967.

Many of her colleagues credited Crossman as a dedicated teacher and artist. She was known to say, “You’re never lonely if you have art. There is no better way to make friends.”[9] After retiring in 1975, Crossman was active in the Whitewater community, participating in various art clubs and volunteering at Fairhaven Retirement Center. Her alma mater, Carleton College, recognized her with the Distinguished Achievement Award in 1987.[10]

[1] Richard C. Haney, Campus Cornerstones: University of Wisconsin Whitewater Biographical Sketches of the People Whom Buildings & Facilities are Named (Whitewater: University of Wisconsin Whitewater, 1997), 34.

[2] Haney, Campus Cornerstones, 35.

[3] Haney, Campus Cornerstones, 35; “U.S. History Planned for Fall,” The Royal Purple, June 18, 1951.  

[4] Haney, Campus Cornerstones, 35.

[5] “Crossman Art Gallery Opening Held Monday,” The Royal Purple, November 30 1967.

[6] Haney, Campus Cornerstones, 35.

[7] “Seniors display art” The Royal Purple, December 3, 2003.

[8] “Art Exhibit” The Royal Purple, June 29, 1970

[9] Haney, Campus Cornerstones, 35.

[10] Haney, Campus Cornerstones, 35.

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