Virginia Anne Myers

  • Born: May 8, 1927
  • Died: December 7, 2015
  • Location: Solon, Iowa

Gay & Ciha Funeral and Cremation Service

2720 Muscatine Avenue
Iowa City, IA 52240
Tel. (319) 338-1132

Tribute & Message From The Family

Virginia Anne Myers, 88, of Solon, Iowa passed away at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics on Monday, December 7, 2015 after a short illness. A celebration of Virginia's life will take place at a later date.

Virginia was born May 8, 1927 in Greencastle, Indiana the daughter of Everett and Bessie McKann Myers. Shortly thereafter she moved to the Cleveland, Ohio area where her father taught biological sciences at various schools and colleges.

Like her father, Virginia was fascinated by science and anatomy. Her life-long passion for drawing and painting began with her sketching various objects found in her father's classroom. Her artistic ability flourished in high school and she chose to study at George Washington University and the Corcoran School of Art in Washington D.C. where she received her B.A. degree in drawing and painting in 1949. In 1951, she earned her M.F.A. in painting from the California College of the Arts and Crafts in Oakland. Virginia later completed post-graduate work at the University of Illinois (Urbana) and in 1955 arrived in Iowa City to study under the distinguished printmaker, Mauricio Lasansky. From 1961-1962, Virginia received a Fulbright Scholarship and worked with Stanley William Hayter who, like Lasansky, was a world-renowned printmaker.

In 1962 Virginia became a University of Iowa faculty member within the School of Art and Art History – the first woman to join the School. She taught drawing and printmaking for the next fifty years retiring as professor emeritus in 2012. In her early days at Iowa, Virginia was well known for intaglio printmaking and her work often captured landscapes from outside her beloved "Tenacre" home in Solon as well as scenes located throughout Johnson County.

In 1990 Virginia's passion for art took a new direction and one that would lead her to become the nation's preeminent artist in foil imaging. Her work, which introduced "foil" to her artwork was made possible by her invention of the Iowa Foil Printer which took advantage of a method used - until that time - by the commercial foil stamping process. In collaboration with Iowa City machinist Dan Wenman and electrical engineer, Jim Phillips, Virginia invented and patented the "Iowa Foil Printer" which made it possible to adhere foil to paper without the use of expensive, high pressure commercial presses. The technique enables artists to combine foil stamping with traditional printmaking methods. Her class in "hot foil stamping" (using her new invention) began in 1990 and was the first of its type ever taught in a school of fine arts. She continued to perfect the "Iowa Foil Printer" and today it has been available and in use by artists worldwide.
After the invention of the new hand held press, Virginia worked tirelessly with students, community members and artists from around the world to improve the new art form. Her early work in foil imaging was detailed in her 2001 book entitled "Foil Imaging…A New Art Form". A second book was produced in 2006 entitled "Foil Imaging: The Original Editioned Prints". It featured a collection of 22 works by her students and artists - all produced on the Iowa Foil Press. At the time of her death, Virginia was in the final stages of producing her latest book "Changing Light: A New Visual Language" - a retrospective on the foil imaging process with comments from additional artists. The book is expected to be released in the spring of 2016.
Virginia presented over 100 one-person exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad. She also participated in more than 150 juried exhibitions and traveling shows – both nationally and internationally. Among many locations, her work is included in collections at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C.; the Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio; the Muscatine Art Center, Muscatine, Iowa and the Des Moines Art Center. In 2014 Virginia completed what she termed was her greatest artistic accomplishment. Using both foil and pastels, the work is entitled "A Codex of Our Time" – most recently displayed at the Figge Museum in Davenport, Iowa. For over 30 years she was a member of the board of directors for the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, in New York City.

Virginia is fondly remembered by hundreds of her former students and friends. Described as a "relentlessly gentle soul" in the classroom, Virginia felt that each student was gifted and had the unique ability to become an artist in some fashion. She often would start her beginning printmaking class by passing out number two yellow pencils and telling her students to "just start drawing". If they replied that they "couldn't draw" Virginia would quickly add, "then sign your name…. you can draw". A patient yet passionate teacher she would often spend countless extra hours working with students – becoming a mentor and friend as well. In recent years, Virginia established several student financial aid funds to assist students – both in the traditional, semester long foil imaging classes as well as the many summer workshops she conducted.

Most recently, Virginia was honored by the College of Engineering for her collaboration of the arts with engineering as demonstrated through the invention of her "Iowa Foil Printer". A new "nexus" program within the College of Engineering began this past year and brings together students involved in collaborative efforts between the disciplines of engineering and the arts. She was to receive the university's Distinguished Alumni Award (faculty category) for achievement in June of 2016 – an honor recognizing her years of dedicated service to the School of Art and – most recently – her introduction of the new foil imaging art form. The award will now be made posthumously.

Virginia is survived by a nephew, Joseph Scaggs, Indian Valley, VA and two nieces, Jane Scaggs Abshire, Laurel, MD and JoAnne Barnette, Brunswick, MD. She was preceded in death by her parents and a sister, Janet Ruth Scaggs. Online condolences may be directed to her family and friends at Memorials may be directed to the University of Iowa Foundation in support of the foil imaging program or the NEXUS Center for the Collaborative Arts within the College of Engineering.