BiographyPaula S. (Berg) Owen was born in 1948 in Iowa City, Iowa, but grew up in Decorah, Iowa where her father was a professor at Luther College. She graduated from Luther in 1970 with a double major in art and political science. She earned an M.S. in art education from Minnesota State University, Moorhead in 1978, and in 1985 earned an M.F.A. in painting and printmaking from the School of Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Her academic experience has been supplemented with numerous professional training opportunities in business and management. From 1985-96 she was the director of the Visual Art Center of Richmond, Virginia, and since that time she has served as president and CEO of the Southwest School of Art and Craft in San Antonio, Texas. In 1995 she received a Distinguished Service Award from Luther College.
Owen’s accomplishments, both as an artist and an arts administrator, are extensive. She has served as a judge and juror for several organizations and events, including the Bush Foundation in Minneapolis, Minnesota; the Philadelphia Craft Show in Pennsylvania; the Pew Fellowships in the Arts, also in Philadelphia; and the Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington, DC. She has been a panelist at the Barnett Symposium at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, and the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC. She has been honored by the Ford Salute to Education in San Antonio, Texas; chaired the Cultural Alliance of San Antonio; and served as project director for the “Women and the Craft Arts” National Conference at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC. She has also curated and developed catalogs for several exhibitions, including “Zierat: International Contemporary Jewelry Invitational,” a group exhibition featuring ten artists each from the United States, Germany and The Netherlands. The exhibit traveled for three years in the U.S., Germany and Holland.
In addition to her administrative work, Owen is an accomplished studio artist whose work has been featured in several gallery exhibits in Texas and Virginia. Pieces by Owen are held in the collections of Capital One Corporation, Richmond, Virginia; the University of Texas, San Antonio; Opus Corporation, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Moritoshi Fukuda, Tokyo, Japan; and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, Washington, DC, to name just a few. She has also been a critic for Art Papers and The New Art Examiner. Owen has described the core of her activities as, “[T]rying to demonstrate the value of art in society. Art is a language, a way of communicating. And in our multicultural society, it is a way of communicating between groups who don’t have a lot to say to each other, or who literally don’t speak the same language.”
There are two works by Owen in the Luther College Fine Arts Collection, both gifts from the artist. Immigrant Farm is an oil painting. Stitched Inlet is an acrylic that was included in “Celebrating Connections: Forty Years of Artistic Dialogue,” a 2008 exhibit at Luther College that featured the work of Douglas Eckheart and selected alumni artists on the occasion of Eckheart’s retirement from teaching at Luther.