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Press Release: Emmy Lou Packard: Artist of Conscience


Exhibition Announcement:

Emmy Lou Packard: Artist of Conscience

June 22 – August 20, 2022

Richmond Art Center
2540 Barrett Avenue, Richmond, CA 94804
Gallery Hours: Wed-Sat, 10am-4pm

Richmond, CA: Richmond Art Center announces Artist of Conscience, an exhibition exploring the life and work of Emmy Lou Packard (1914-1998), a remarkable artist known for her paintings, prints and murals, as well as her activism. 

Presenting artwork, photos and ephemera, and organized around key periods of Packard’s life, Artist of Conscience will tell the story of this remarkable, though over-looked, artist. 

Packard was mentored by Diego Rivera and became his principal assistant on the mural he painted on Treasure Island for the Golden Gate International Exposition in 1940 (currently on view at SFMOMA). During WWII Packard worked at Kaiser shipyard’s newspaper in Richmond, Fore ‘n’ Aft, creating images that urged ending racial segregation and supported voting rights. After that, she turned to printmaking, creating portraits of workers, explorations of the joys of childhood, the beauty of nature and the importance of history. One of her signature images distributed around the world, Peace is a Human Right, shows three children, Asian, Black and White, seated around a sunflower. The message is framed in human terms — children are not political; they are just children. Later in life, Packard inspired and mentored a generation of mostly female and Chicana artists in the Bay Area. She also led the movement to save the Mendocino headlands from development.

This exhibition is curated by Robbin Légère Henderson and Rick Tejada-Flores.

Emmy Lou Packard: Artist of Conscience will be presented at the same time as SFMOMA’s exhibition Diego Rivera’s America (opening July 16, 2022), offering audiences the opportunity to learn about Packard’s mentor and understand her oeuvre within a broader artistic movement focused on social change and justice. Richmond Art Center is working in partnership with SFMOMA on a collaborative public program (to be announced).

The exhibition at Richmond Art Center is supported by funding from California Humanities and The Jay DeFeo Foundation. Collectors and organizations generously loaning work include Mendocino Art Center, and Emmy Lou Packard’s son Donald Cairns and granddaughter Shannon Cairns. 

Exhibition and Public Programs Schedule

Exhibition and events are free to attend. All programs will take place at Richmond Art Center.

Emmy Lou Packard: Artist of Conscience
Curated by Robbin Légère Henderson and Rick Tejada-Flores
Exhibition Dates: June 22 – August 20, 2022

Open Reception
Event Date: Saturday, June 18, 2pm-4pm

How Emmy Lou Packard Made Her Prints
Demonstration of Packard’s press by master printer Art Hazelwood
Event Date: Saturday, July 16, 12pm-2pm

Rebel Art: Emmy Lou Packard’s Legacy
Artist panel moderated by art historian, curator and writer Terezita Romo
Event Date: Friday, July 29, 6pm-7:30pm

Screening of Rivera In America (featuring interviews with Emmy Lou Packard)
Film by Rick Tejada-Flores
Event Date: Thursday, August 11, 6:30pm-8:30pm

Closing Reception with The Great Tortilla Conspiracy
Featuring edible art inspired by Emmy Lou Packard
Event Date: Saturday, August 20, 12pm-2pm

About the Curators

Rick Tejada-Flores is a documentary filmmaker whose works have explored art and politics, including profiles of Diego Rivera, Jasper Johns, Jose Clemente Orozco and Cesar Chavez. They have been shown on PBS, Sundance Channel, History en Español, and Channel 4 UK, and at the National Museum of American History and British Museum. Tejada-Flores printed for Packard in Mendocino, and remained a friend for the rest of her life.   

Robbin Légère Henderson organized exhibitions focusing on art and politics as director and curator of Berkeley Art Center for 20 years. A graduate of U.C. Berkeley, Henderson has served as curator at Intersection for the Arts and was a co-founder of Southern Exposure Gallery. For 10 years she has freelanced as a curator and speaker on her illustrated history of a woman labor organizer in the 20th century.

About Richmond Art Center

Richmond Art Center has been sharing art and creating with the community since 1936. Our programs encompass classes, exhibitions and events at our facility in downtown Richmond, as well as off-site activities that bring free, high-quality art making experiences to WCCUSD schools and community partners.

For more information contact:
Amy Spencer,

Images: (top) Emmy Lou Packard, Artichoke Picker, circa 1955; (above left) Emmy Lou Packard, Peace is a Human Right, 1949; (above right) Diego River, Detail of Emmy Lou Packard in the Panamerican Unity mural, 1941



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Richmond Art Center
2540 Barrett Avenue
Richmond, CA 94804-1600


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Gallery Hours: Wed-Sat 10am-4pm