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June 26, 2018

SVSU art gallery to display former Saginaw Art Museum director's work

Roecker LakeviewSaginaw Valley State University will display the works of a 20th century Saginaw artist whose legacy resonates with her creative successors in the University Art Gallery this summer.

The exhibition featuring the work of Julia Roecker will be shown from July 2 to Aug. 10.

Art pieces shown in the exhibition will include traditional work in the area of linocut and woodblock prints, as well as silkscreen and impressionist pastel drawings. In addition to these pieces, there will be examples of her sketchbooks displayed.

Roecker shared her skills of art and teaching with the people she inspired during her lifetime.

Born in Saginaw in 1887, she received her art training at the Arts Institute of Chicago. After receiving her education, she returned to her hometown – with her husband Henry – to teach art classes at Saginaw High School.

Roecker then continued to instruct others at Alma College as a professor of art. After retiring from Alma, she finished her career in Saginaw as the director of the Saginaw Art Museum, a title she held for 10 years until her retirement.

The couple's accomplished life is detailed in the book “A Century on Canvas: The Lives and Work of Julia Roberts and Henry Leon Roecker” by Jean Beach.

Julia Roecker was a dynamic artist, as SVSU's studio art technician Sara Clark described.

“There wasn't much in art that she wasn't in charge of at Alma College, so she was constantly working in different media and taking different approaches to her favorite subject matter which consisted largely of flora and fauna,” she said.

Even after her death at the age of 101 in 1988, Clark said that her legacy remains in the region through others.

“She was quite prolific as an artist, and this passion and discipline surely rubbed off on her students and admirers.”

The exhibition is free and open to the public. The art gallery is open daily Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information on SVSU's University Art Gallery, visit