Martha W. Longenecker

11th Woman Living Legacy Award
Daring to be Different

Professor Martha W. Longenecker's career in art is a many faceted design related to being an artist/craftsman, educator, and Founder/Director of MINGEI INTERNATIONAL Museum of World Folk Art, dedicated to furthering the understanding of art of the people from all cultures of the world.

An international doll collection given to her at the age of five initiated Martha's awareness of the world. Traveling began at the early age of nine months when she came with her family by train from her birthplace in Oklahoma City to live in California. These early recollections were a precursor of Martha's later worldwide travel/study and collecting of ceramics and related art.

Drawing, painting, and making things came naturally as a child, and there was never a question that her career would be in the arts! Martha received a BA in Art with a minor in English from the University of California at Los Angeles. In order to study painting with Millard Sheets, who had a profound influence on her life, she attended Claremont Graduate School receiving an Art Education Credential and a Masters of Fine Arts degree. Establishing her own ceramics studio in Claremont, California, she made wheel-thrown stoneware forms which were exhibited nationally through Dalzell Hatfield Galleries.

Attracted by her work in 1955, San Diego State University sought her out to develop their ceramics program. During Martha's thirty-five year tenure as a Professor of Art, she also taught history of ceramics, design, directed the gallery program and supervised the University's student teachers.

Continuing post-graduate research included significant study in Japan under the guidance of a National Living Treasure, the late potter Shoji Hamada, and the contemporary potter, Tatsuzo Shimaoka. Working in Japan gave her the opportunity to directly see and understand the teachings of art historian and aesthetician Dr. Soetsu Yanagi, who coined the term mingei (arts of the people).

Returning again and again for further study in Japan, it became clear to her that an organization was necessary to facilitate these cultural exchanges. With the encouragement of her late husband, Sydney Martin Roth, who provided the seed money, MINGEI INTERNATIONAL was incorporated as a nonprofit, public foundation in 1974. And in 1978, with an unprecedented gift of a twenty-year leasehold provided by University Towne Centre and Ernest W. Hahn and Associates, she oversaw the design and construction of the museum, now in its sixteenth year. She has directed the organization and design of fifty-three dynamic, changing exhibition of the arts of the people drawing from MINGEI INTERNATIONAL's permanent collection, other museums and private collections. She has also overseen the production of fifteen exhibition documentary publications, which extends the influence of the museum's mission throughout the world.

To accommodate its expanding museum program and permanent collection of over 5,000 art objects, her energies are now focused on building the museum of the future a permanent facility opening a broad yet intimate view of our magnificent world.


[ WIC Main Page | Biographies |