|Marilyn Wright Offutt and Nancy Polster
She was head of Interior Design Art during my years at ISU and was a mentor and inspired me to reach for high goals and to dedicate myself to excel. By Marilyn Offutt 3/30/95
Following narrative submitted by Nancy Polster - Marjorie S. Garfield became head of the Applied Art Department College of Home Economics at Iowa State University in 1948 and served in this position 21 years until her retirement as Professor Emerita in June of 1969. During her administration of the department she built a strong interior design emphasis from a nucleus of required home furnishings courses. Iowa State was one of the first institutions if not specifically the first to require a summer internship as a part of the requirements for a degree in interior design which continues today. The department also offered a broad-based requirement in art and design for all students of the college. Many graduates from these years now work nationwide in the interior design profession. Other alumni are independent artists working as jewelry designers fabric designers and art teachers. Ties with Hallmark Inc. Kansas City placed many alumni in various aspects of greeting card production. At Professor Garfield's retirement in 1969 the department had grown from one major applied art to four: interior design advertising design art education and general applied art and crafts and students were pursuing a great variety of career paths; undergraduate enrollment had grown dramatically.
Marjorie Garfield's concern and interest in youth - particularly the college students in the department was evidenced in a variety of ways. She desired that they have a broad experience and provided opportunities to make this possible. For a series of years this was partially satisfied by the week long "senior study trip" arranged for as many as 80 senior design majors along with perhaps 15 faculty accompanying the students on a bus trip to either Chicago or Minneapolis. Special events were planned including in Chicago the Merchandise Mart the Auditorium designed by architect Louis Sullivan small art galleries advertising agencies and design firms Chicago Art Institute craft shops as well as a group meal at restaurants such as Trader Vic's. The department sponsored designers of stature in on-campus workshops lectures and seminars open to the entire university. Among notables in the world of art visiting ISU were Charles Eames Dorothy Draper Richard Neutra and Aileen Vanderbilt Webb.
A superb watercolor painter Professor Garfield's work is widely admired and cherished by all those who recognized her genius and became owners of her paintings. Thirty-nine one-person exhibitions she had in her lengthy career shared paintings and etchings inspired from East coast Boston Cape Ann Rockport Gloucester Quebec and later a Colorado series Mineral Point Wisconsin scenes and depiction’s of historic inns and houses of early America watercolor renderings made after careful and detailed pencil drawings. Her interest in doing these began with her Master's degree study of Spanish Guatemala sketching and painting interiors of palaces and private homes. In photography she made a special study of Spanish Colonial furniture in Guatemala two thousand photographs on this project. A gift in the 1980s to the Brunnier Gallery and Museum they have been exhibited and remain in the University Museums collections.
In addition to her life membership in the American Watercolor Society Professor Garfield belonged to Phi Kappa Phi and Mortar Board Honor Societies. She held a Faculty Citation from Iowa State University and was recipient of the Christian Peterson Design Award in 1982 presented to recognize her contribution toward establishing the "Design Center" the administrative structure which led in 1978 to formation of the College of Design at Iowa State University. Paintings and etchings of Marjorie S. Garfield are in the following permanent collections ISU University Museums; Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts; Dwight Art Gallery Mt. Holyoke Massachusetts; University of Manitoba Winnipeg Canada.
Marjorie Garfield was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1904 and moved to Syracuse, New York two years later. She grew up in Syracuse received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Fine Arts from Syracuse University and was head of the Interior Design department there 1926-1948 before coming to Iowa State. Upon retirement she returned to the east coast to live with her sister and brother-in-law and built a studio overlooking the ocean. In 1976 she bought a home in Florida on Marco Island and prior to her death in 1993 found enjoyment painting subjects in the Everglades Myakka wilderness the palms and mangos exhibiting work on Marco Island and in Naples.