Elsa Marie Sreenivasam passed away March 15, 2017 in Green Valley, Arizona. She is survived by Dharma, her beloved husband of 47 years, five children (Patrick, Brigid, Hallie, Fanchon, and Rakesh), and three grandchildren (Briana, Robyn and Ryan).
Elsa Sreenivasam grew up in a small community in Duluth, Minnesota. There was great freedom for her to explore the surrounding areas, enjoy nature, use her imagination, and sketch her impressions of the world around her. Her interest in art continued to grow through the years. She graduated from St. Scholastica College in Duluth with a degree in art, which later honored her with a lifetime achievement award. She discovered the vitality and promise of fabric art, which led to further study and a graduate degree in textile arts.
Elsa loved teaching. At the University of Kansas, she taught textile art classes. After realizing the need for more communication between artists and industry, she co-founded the Surface Design Association and helped organize the first surface design conference in the United States. Today, it is an active, national organization.
At Iowa State University, as Art and Design Professor, she continued teaching textile art courses and pursued her passion for textile art history. She was awarded two
Fulbright Research Grants to study the traditional textile print, dye, and embroidery processes in India. It was a happy, eye-opening, cultural learning experience, providing opportunities to learn ancient techniques and to collect antique fabrics, which became a museum-quality collection. She also collected craftsmen carved woodblocks which her students were able to use with unique effects. Her research resulted in the publication entitled The Textiles of India: A Living History.
Elsa enjoyed teaching courses on textile arts and sharing her love of textiles. She supported Textile Center, a national center for fiber arts, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Textile Center honored her with a Spun Gold award in 1999, awarded for a lifetime of dedication to the textile arts. In 2010, Textile Center hosted an exhibition of her vast Indian textiles collection.
She actively pursued her own expressive, colorful artwork until the end of her life. She used a variety of methods and techniques, including screen-printing, batik, discharge, block-printing, dyeing, shibori, appliqué, embroidery, and other techniques in her work. She drew upon her memories, nature, travel, cultural interactions and life experiences for inspiration.
She loved her family and friends and was deeply loved in return. A memorial will be held at a later date in Minnesota.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to a charity of your choosing.