Olive Rush: From Indiana to New Mexico

Fall 2013


Olive Rush, born in Fairmount, Indiana in 1873, has been called “the first important woman artist” to settle in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her father was a Society of Friends minister, and Olive studied art at Earlham from 1890-91 with John Elwood Bundy, Earlham’s first art professor. After leaving Earlham, Olive did a great amount of traveling, studying, relocating, and perfecting new artistic techniques before settling in Santa Fe in 1920, at the age of 47.  At her death in 1966, Olive bequeathed her home in Santa Fe to the Santa Fe Friends Meeting , and the building, now known as “The Olive Rush Studio,” continues to house the Meeting today.


Rush is perhaps best known for her mural paintings, many of which she completed during the Works Progress Administration years. She was commissioned to paint murals at La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe Plaza, the Santa Fe Public Library and in the biology building at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, among others.


In June 2013, the Earlham College Art Collection received a generous donation of 19 paintings and drawings by Olive Rush from Joy and Ron Surdam, of Laramie, Wyoming. "Olive Rush: From Indiana to New Mexico" showcases these
works along with four Rush paintings already owned by the Collection .

Click here to read more about the Surdam donation and Olive Rush



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Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts, including the sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

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