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Pictured: Lila Nelson weaving detail
Exhibition – The Tapestries of Lila Nelson: Poetry, Myth, & Protest (Studio Gallery / November 2 – December 26, 2015)
Lila Nelson Bio:
Weaver, artist, poet, scholar, teacher, mentor, voracious reader and wonderful friend, Lila was an inspiration to all who knew her. A native of Long Prairie, Minnesota, Lila began her career as a high school English teacher in Davenport, Iowa after graduating from St. Cloud State. She later completed a Master’s in English at the University of Minnesota. Lila entered the Women’s Air Force in 1949 and was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. That same year she marched with her WAF unit in Harry S. Truman’s inaugural parade. She was later stationed in Germany in the weather mapping division. Lila met her future husband when they were students at the University of Minnesota. They were married in Chicago on June 17, 1957 and honeymooned in Iceland and Norway. While Marion pursued his doctoral research, Lila attended the Oslo International Summer School. This was the beginning of a lifelong love of Norway and Norwegian culture. Her interest in weaving also began at this time. In the early 1960s Lila began training with Anna Smits at the Minnesota Weavers Guild of Minnesota. She became an active member and teacher at the Guild and lead the Scandinavian Weavers Study Group. In 1964 Marion and Lila were hired by Luther College to catalogue the collection of Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa. Lila became Registrar and eventually Textile Curator at the Museum. In this position she played a major role in the revival of traditional Norwegian weaving techniques in America. She also helped establish the museum’s folk art handwork school as well as its weaving program. She retired in 1991, but continued as an honorary trustee on the board. In 2001 Lila was awarded the St. Olav medal by the King of Norway in recognition of her contributions to Norwegian-American culture. In 2006 she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts by Luther College. After her retirement she dedicated herself to tapestry weaving, creating an exceptional body of work characterized by innovative imagery and witty, often provocative, political content.
~excerpted from the Star Tribune obituary