Jean Stamsta Art Collection

Donated to Carroll University by the Kohler Foundation in 2011, the 94-piece Stamsta Collection showcases works from each of Jean Stamsta's (1936–2013) major artistic periods—from early tubular weaving to her final pieces inspired by winters spent in Hawaii. Stamsta's playful and innovative vision, her fearless and joyful use of material and her love of color, pattern and humor cannot be missed in the hallways, classrooms and lobbies of the Center for Graduate Studies, where much of the collection is on permanent display.

abstract woven artwork of triangle shapes
abstract human form on a beach
blue and green stripped mache artwork

Biography and Major Styles

Jean Stamsta

Jean Stamsta was a fiber artist renown for pioneering the art of tubular weaving. She also created imaginative landscapes and still-lifes in wildly colorful and playful paintings, and often combines fabric, paint, mirrors and glitter to create her explosive works. 

Stamsta, who lived in Monches, Wis., exhibited at the American Crafts Museum, New York; Milwaukee Art Museum; Wustum Museum, Racine, Wis.; Cleavland Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Art, Columbus, Ohio; Arkansas Art Center; and Johnson Hill Press, Fort Atkinson, Wis. She also has exhibited in London, Switzerland, Hungary and Finland. 

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Stamsta also studied at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine, the Fiberwork Center for Textile Research in California and the Banff Centre in Canada. She has won awards from UWM, Wisconsin Arts Board, Milwaukee Art Museum, Columbus (Ohio) Gallery of Fine Arts, and Contemporary Crafts of the Americas. 

Stamsta has been commissioned to create works for Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital, First Wisconsin Trust Company, Hyatt Hotel, Koss Corporation, and Associated Bank, all in Milwaukee; Waukesha Memorial Hospital; Heritage Insurance Company, Sheboygan, Wis.; Ohio Bell; Sentry Corporation, Stevens Point, Wis.; Heft, Dye, Heft & Paulson, Racine, Wis.; National Lead Corporation, New York; and First National Bank, Amarillo, Texas.

purple and red tubular weaving
colorful artwork of abstract airplane
colorful paper artwork
colorful artwork of Hawaii

1. Tubular Weaving
Renowned for pioneering the art of tubular weaving, Stamsta used the unique medium to create monumental, sculptural, freestanding works as well as three-dimensional wall pieces. Untitled, 1977 exemplifies this early artistic period. 

2. Airplanes
Stamsta loved to fly with her son who was a pilot, viewing the Wisconsin terrain from above, evidenced by the frequent use of airplanes as dominant subject matter in much of her work. Many of her large weavings like Sheltering Wings, 1981,  feature shadows of airplanes amidst her colorful interpretation of farm fields.

3. Paper Works
By the mid-1980s, Stamsta freed herself from the constraints of a rectangular loom by producing works with handmade paper. With this change in medium, her shapes, like that in South of the Studio, 1986,  became more organic and playful. Animal shapes inspired by Native American effigy mounds became common motifs. She combined these new found shapes with fabric, paint, mirrors and her signature patterns and textures. 

4. Hawaii
In her later years, Stamsta and her husband wintered in Hawaii. Work from this period, like West Shores, 1998–2000, features images of palm trees, wriggling lizards and swimmers in wildly patterned bathing suits. Footprints sink into the wall hangings made from paper pulp, as they wander across exuberant fantastical Hawaiian landscapes. 

About the Kohler Foundation

Established in 1940, Kohler Foundation, Inc. has evolved to be a strong supporter of the arts, education and preservation initiatives. The foundation’s scope encompasses five areas:

Learn more about the Kohler Foundation

Interested in Art?Discover Carroll's Art Program

Panoramic View of campus