Lunda Hoyle Gill, S '46

Portrait Artist, World Cultures

Portraitist Lunda Hoyle Gill is an artist with a mission to paint the world's cultures. She has a rare taste for adventure and her life is full of risk.

Lunda has shared a shower with a poisonous momba snake in Africa; traveled down a crocodile-infested river in Papua, New Guinea, to paint head hunters; had breakfast with Ghengis Kahns's 23rd descendant in the middle of Mongolia; was left on a "small table-top iceberg" by Eskimos who quickly paddled away; spent nights in jail on an island off Siberia; had a gun pulled on her in the Aleutians; was painting in Tibet two weeks after being told that she could not go there. To this day she has not revealed how she did it.

The 5'2" green-eyed Gill has lived with and painted: the Indians, Aleuts, and Eskimos of the United States, Canada and Mexico; the Aborigines of Australia; the Kikuyu, Masai, and other tribes of Africa; the indigenous people of Fiji, Hawaii, Indonesia, Japan, and New Zealand; Papua, New Guinea; the Philippines, Samoa, Tahiti, Tonga, China (including Tibet and Mongolia), and Israel.

She was always interested in painting people. "The minute I picked up a pencil in a life drawing course at the Chouinart Art Institute in Los Angeles, my passion began. I love to take a blank canvas and suddenly a person's face stares back at me and comes alive," says Gill.

Gill was raised by a loving mother and stepfather who were very proud when she graduated from Pomona College, Claremont, California. Her art training was guided by her birth father, New York illustrator Karl Godwin, whom she met when she was 21. She studied with him on weekends while attending the Art Students League in New York. Next came a year of intense painting at the Academia de Belli Arti in Florence, Italy.

Gill's paintings have been exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; the prestigious Hammer Galleries and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia; and many other museums and private collections around the world. A book of her Chinese paintings The Han and the Fifty-Five Minority Nationalities was published by the University of Hawaii Press, and a second book, Before the Rainbow Fades, collected her Israeli paintings.

As one of today's finest recorders of American Indian cultures, Lunda designed five stamps for the U.S. Postal Service, issued from Cody, Wyoming, on August 17, 1990. Her subject was Indian Feather Headdresses for Assiniboine, Cheyenne, Comanche, Flathead, and Shoshone tribes.