In Memoriam: Julia Marshall, Professor Emerita of Art

Author: Mark Johnson
February 28, 2022

Julia Marshall, acclaimed and influential San Francisco State University Professor of Art Education, died at the age of 74 on February 15, 2022 in San Francisco, from complications from aplastic anemia, an autoimmune disease of the bone marrow. She is survived by her husband, Leonard Hunter, Professor Emeritus of Art at San Francisco State University, as well as a large extended family.

Marshall was born in Red Wing, Minnesota in 1947 and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from George Washington University in Washington, DC and Master of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, before moving to California soon after to work as a visual artist in Bay Area schools through LEAP (Learning in Education through Art Program). She earned a doctorate from the University of San Francisco, and then tenure as Professor of Art Education at San Francisco State University, where she taught for thirty years and served as mentor for thousands of students. Her innovative approach that integrated creativity with science and global culture attracted international attention. She collaborated with many individuals across the globe as well as with local organizations including the San Francisco Art Institute, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the San Francisco and Alameda County School Districts. She organized art education programs in San Francisco as well as in Central America and East Asia.

"Teaching is my art form"
Julia Marshall

She lectured and published widely and contributed to national and international conferences and journals. She produced three books for Columbia University’s Teachers College Press of New York; these include Studies in Art-Centered Learning Across the Curriculum (with David M. Donahue); Integrating the Visual Arts Across the Curriculum; and Teaching Contemporary Art With Young People (with Connie Stewart and Anne Thulson), as well as The Illustrated Guide to Integrated Learning. In 2017 she received the lifetime achievement Lowenfeld Award from the National Art Education Association (NAEA). Although Marshall professed “teaching is my art form,” she worked as a studio artist in media including painting, wood sculpture and bronze and exhibited regularly in galleries and community centers. Her art often drew from international sources informed by her intrepid travels in Europe, Central America, and especially Asia - including sites in Afghanistan, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

One of her former students, artist, teacher and SF State alumnus Dana Hart-Stone, summarized his admiration for Marshall, recently writing:

“Julia was a brilliant educator who forged a new frontier in art education that made creativity central to art making as a valid language. It was the magic of an idea that drove her investigations and ultimately her purpose. Saying “no” to an idea was out of the question and “yes” was her most effective tool. She was always the guide on the side and never the sage on the stage. Her lessons were superbly crafted and started with a simple introduction that ended with an important reason that made you think about what you just created in ways you never imagined.

Julia opened gorgeous French doors to soon-to-be educators who learned that reorganized corn husks, string, sandpaper, rickrack, colored fabric, found objects and a little glue could speak to race, gender, sexual identity, politics, discrimination, Democracy, or love. The possibilities were endless and always amplified by the most important teacher I’ve ever known.”