In Memoriam

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Elsa Warnick ’64

A picture of Elsa Warnick

Elsa Warnick ’64, March 6, 2013, in Portland. Elsa came to Portland from Tacoma, Washington, initially intending to study philosophy and literature at Reed. But when she learned of the five-year degree program that the college offered in conjunction with the Museum Art School (now, Pacific Northwest College of Art), she decided to major in art. “Reed was an extraordinary place for learning, for intellectual discipline, for gaining many tools for processing information, for objective knowledge.” From Lloyd Reynolds [English & art 1929–69] she acquired the confidence to dedicate her life to art. “He was an exemplary craftsman. It’s not the language of his expression that mattered so much, but the manner in which he approached it. I’ve never seen a grown person love his work more.” After completing her education, and while raising her two sons, she maintained a studio for her work in ink and watercolor and exhibited widely in Oregon and Washington. She also taught art and illustration “for the pleasure of the connection with young art students.” She served as art mistress at the Royal Pinner School in Middlesex, England, for a year, and was an instructor at Clark College, at PNCA, and at Oregon Episcopal School, where she developed the art curriculum and served as chair of the fine arts department. In addition, she directed and taught at the Albina Art Center’s Summer Children’s Workshop in Portland. Elsa worked for a wide variety of commercial and professional clients and illustrated children’s books. This work allowed her to return to her roots, she said, and to experience the joy of interpreting words “without compromise.” Her illustrations for Ride the Wind: Airborne Journeys of Animals and Plants, published in 1997, received acclaim for being “lyrical and sensitive,” “fresh and original,” and founded on integrity of thought and research. Elsa described her art as an affirmation of her personal attitudes and responses. “I choose as subjects any person or object that communicates its ‘particularness’ to me. Just as human and revealing as the people I draw are the manmade objects and their relationships. My responses to those subjects vary, from laughter to awe, to sadness to joy. I draw simply. The processes of observation, selection, and execution of line fascinate me. I isolate the exquisiteness and necessity of each thing I choose to draw.” Survivors include her sons, Matt Erceg and Milan Erceg, and two brothers, Fred Warnick and Jack Warnick ’53. “She had a passion for life and all its wonders, as well as its imperfections.”

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2013

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