In Memoriam: Marcia Hafif (1929-2018)
Renowned artist and Pomona College alumna Marcia Woods Hafif ’51 passed away on April 17. Hafif’s six-decade career included painting, drawing, film, photography and writing, and she has been widely recognized in Europe and the United States since the 1970s. She was most well-known for experimental paintings that suggest both minimalism and process art.
Born in Pomona in 1929, Hafif studied creative writing and studio art at Pomona College in Claremont from 1947 to 1951. After interning at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, she set out to Italy where she remained for almost eight years creating abstract paintings. She returned to California in 1969 to start graduate school at the University of California at Irvine, where she experimented with film, photography and sound installation, and studied with fellow Pomona College alumni Chris Burden ’69 and Barbara T. Smith ’53. In 1971, Hafif moved to New York to attempt to return to painting, and, the next year, made her breakthrough Pencil on Paper drawings that formed the basis of her paintings. Her paintings were featured in the 2014 edition of the Hammer Museum’s “Made in L.A.” biennial, and she had a major solo exhibition at the Laguna Art Museum in 2015. In 2016, the Kunsthaus Baselland and the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen in Switzerland hosted a joint retrospective.
A survey of Hafif’s drawing practice will be exhibited this fall at the Pomona College Museum of Art. The exhibition “A Place Apart” places several of her paintings within a context of texts, sketches, architectural models and photographs, bringing together works that investigate lived spaces, drawing forms and site-specificity. By examining Hafif’s lesser-known drawings alongside her painting, the range of innovative experiments in art-making that Hafif explored for six decades becomes profoundly clear.
“Marcia Hafif: A Place Apart” will mark the first exhibition of these drawings, and the first at her alma mater. Plans are underway to recognize Hafif’s legacy in a special celebration during the exhibition that runs from September 4 through December 22, 2018.
“For four years, I’ve worked closely with Marcia Hafif to plan an exhibition that highlights her intimate drawing practice, “Marcia Hafif: A Place Apart,” says Rebecca McGrew, senior curator of the Pomona College Museum of Art. “Bringing her back to campus on multiple occasions over the last few months meant so much to her, and to me to see her reflect back on the fullness of her life in Claremont. It has been an honor to work so closely with an artist in such command of her vision for her artwork, her life and her legacy.”