Published: March 27, 2018
BERKELEY, CALIF. – Katherine Westphal, 99, of Berkeley died March 13 at her home in Berkeley. Her death was announced by Rhonda Brown and Tom Grotta of Browngrotta Arts, who were her gallery representation.
Westphal worked in ceramics, quilting and fiber, but it was her experimentation with color xerography and heat transfer printing on textiles that made her a pioneer in the wearable art movement in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1960s and 1970s.
She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in painting at Berkeley before teaching, first at the University of Wyoming, then at the University of Washington. Beginning in 1948, she worked as a freelance textile designer before becoming a professor of design at the University of California, Davis, where she taught – and was occasionally the head of the department – from 1966 to 1979. Westphal retired from teaching in 1979 but continued her creative work until the end of her life.
Westphal’s work reflected her life and her world travels and was distinguished by a vivid sense of humor and playfulness. She is represented in many permanent museum collections, including those of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Westphal was married to another textile artist, Ed Rossbach, who taught in the design department at the University of California, Berkeley and was influential in contemporary fiber arts. Rossbach, who specialized in the use of nontraditional fiber materials, died in 2002. No immediate family members survive.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm