Happy Birthday Lil Picard!

The following is written by academic outreach coordinator Kathryn Reuter.

On Tuesday, October 4th, 2022, join the Stanley Museum of Art & the University of Iowa Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives as they celebrate the 123rd birthday of artist Lil Picard! Crafts and cake will be available in the Stanley Museum lobby from 12-2pm, and there will be a pop-up exhibit of Picard’s artworks and items from her archives in the Visual Laboratory (third floor of the museum). Learn more about the event here. 


Lil Picard was born Lilli Elisabeth Benedick in Germany on October 4th, 1899. She got her start as an artist and performer by singing and dancing in cabarets in Berlin in the 1920s.


Lil Picard, 1920s

Later she worked as a fashion editor for German publications until the anti-Semitic policies of the National Socialist Party caused her and her second husband, Henry Odell, to immigrate to the United States in 1936.

Lil and dog. Note on back of this photo reads: 1933-1934 Berlin, Lil Picard


In their new home in New York City, Lil Picard took English lessons as well as design and lettering classes. She began selling her accessories and jewelry designs to department stores before establishing her own milliner studio at 555 Madison Avenue in 1939. In 1942, she opened “Custom Hat Box”, a milliner counter in Bloomingdale’s.

Untitled, by Lil Picard. Assemblage – Stanley Museum of Art, Lil Picard Collection. Accession Number 2012.892

In addition to her hat making, Lil Picard supported herself as a journalist, writing for German newspapers and art magazines as well as American publications such as Art Magazine, Andy Warhol’s Interview, and The East Village Other.

As an artist, Lil Picard worked in a variety of mediums including painting, sculpture, watercolor and drawings, collages, assemblages, and performance art. Her performance art, especially, was an avenue for expressing her militant views on the Vietnam War and on social and environmental issues.

From 1955-1981, Lil Picard had fifteen solo exhibitions (in both the United States and Germany) and her work was included in more than forty group shows. She participated in six Avant Garde Festivals of New York between 1967 and 1975. Increasingly blind during her last years, Lil Picard became reclusive, dying without descendants on May 10, 1994.

Lil Picard, 1980s

Lil Picard bequeathed her entire estate to the University of Iowa. Her artworks are in the collection of the University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art, and her archives (where most of these photos are from) are part of the University of Iowa Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives, as the Lil Picard Papers, MsC0817

Lil Picard, 1930s



Felicia Rice and Guillermo Gómez-Peña Artwork Doc/Undoc on Display

Last week Special Collections the Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professors Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Felicia Rice stopped by Special Collections for a performance and their collaborative work Doc/Undoc is now on display.

Rice performed “DOC/UNDOC: Collaboration and Metamorphosis,” followed by a conversation with Guillermo Gómez-Peña on March 31st.

Gómez-Peña is a performance artist whose live art, video, radio, photography, and writing have earned acclaim — and many awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship — over the past thirty years. He is the artistic director of the transnational performance collective La Pocha Nostra.

Rice’s design, printing, and publication work for her Moving Parts Press (Santa Cruz, CA) has been exhibited at major book fairs in New York and Frankfurt, and collected by the Whitney Museum, the Bodleian Library, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, among others. Rice is also an educator who teaches courses in letterpress printing, typography, printmaking, typography, and bookmaking at institutions ranging from UC-Santa Cruz to the Santa Cruz YWCA.

Together with their collaborators, Gómez-Peña and Rice have published artists’ books including DOC/UNDOC: Documentado/Undocumented, Ars Shamánica Performática (2014), a copy of which is held by UI’s Special Collections.

Doc/Undoc as well as selections of work from the Moving Parts Press on loan from Felicia Rice are on display in the third floor hallway gallery cases outside of Special Collections until May 20th, 2016.

Event 3/31:


Doc/Undoc Exhibition:

Display created by Ellen Wrede.


DOC/UNDOC : Documentado/Undocumented Ars Shamánica Performática / texts Guillermo Gómez-Peña, images & bookwork Felicia Rice, video Guillermo Gómez-Peña & Gustavo Vazquez, critical commentary Jennifer González, sound art Zachary Watkins.  Santa Cruz, CA : Moving Parts Press, 2014.

Special Collections x-Collection N7433.4.G644 D63 2014 


Thanks to the UI Deparment of English, The Department of Theater Arts, The University of Iowa Center for the Book, The Obermann Center, Jennifer Buckley, Tim Barrett, Ellen Wrede, Giselle Simón, Candida Pagan, Heidi Bartlett and everyone from Special Collections who worked to make the event and exhibition possible.

Want to Make Historic Recipes?

handwritten recipe page from a very old book
Photo by Tom Jorgenson

Want to make historic recipes?  Or how about reading handwriting, converting measurements, recreating historic cooking implements, food photography, or writing and blogging?

300+ years of handwritten cookbooks with thousands of recipes from Chef Louis Szathmary’s culinary collection from Special Collections & University Archives are now online in DIY History, the newest transcription project from the University of Iowa Libraries.  Helpful people around the world are trying to puzzle out what the handwriting says.  But is that where it ends?  Unlike letters, diaries, or even menus, recipes are not done even what you can read what it says.  They are instructions just calling out to be tested to bring a slice of history back to life one piece of hardtack at a time.

Sound interesting?  Come to the first meeting and have a voice in determining what the group should be.

If  you can’t make the meeting but want to be in the loop, e-mail colleen-theisen @  uiowa dot edu to be added to the e-mail list.

Event poster


Tuesday, November 13th, 2012


PS-Z, 120 N. Dubuque St.

(3 blocks north of PS1, on the lower level of the Wesley Center)