Hale A. Woodruff


Honorary Degree (1978)
Doctor of Fine Arts
Location: Indianapolis
Presenter: John William Ryan


One of Hale Woodruff's colleagues has cited his "truly great teaching, his sensitive and penetrating counseling, and his uninterrupted creation of compelling works of artistic magnitude."

Hale Aspacio Woodruff, a nationally known printmaker, draftsman, and painter, was born August 26, 1900, in Cairo, Illinois. In early childhood, he moved to Nashville, TN, where he attended Pearl High School and was the school newspaper's cartoonist.

Mr. Woodruff's career combined the creation of art with the preparation of students for careers in art. He was an alumnus of Indiana University's Herron School of Art and Design and Harvard University. His works were exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, and at many museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Following his education at Herron, he studied at the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, and in Europe at the Scandinavian Academy of Art and the Modern Academy in Paris. He also studied fresco painting in Mexico under Diego Rivera.

After a four-year sojourn to France in the 1920's, Mr. Woodruff joined the faculty of Atlanta University, as Art Director, where he taught from 1931-1946. It was his initial venture with art instruction and made him one of the first college professors of studio art in the state of Georgia. Following this appointment, he joined the faculty of New York University in 1946, where he advanced to the rank of full Professor of Art Education in 1957. In 1966, he received NYU's Great Teacher Award, and in 1967, the university honored him with a retrospective exhibition of his paintings. He retired from the NYU faculty in 1968 as Professor Emeritus.

Mr. Woodruff long had an interest in African art. Among his major works were murals at Talladega College in Alabama, at Golden State Mutual Life in Los Angeles, and at Atlanta University. In 1966, he was designated by the U.S. Department of State to represent the United States at the First International Festival of Negron Arts in Senegal. He also lectured in five West African countries on trends in United States art.

He lectured at colleges and museums throughout the country, and also served on the New York State Council on the Arts and the Art Commission of the City of New York. His work is represented in the permanent collections of numerous museums and universities and in many private collections.

Mr. Woodruff received many awards and citations, including a Bronze Award from the Harmon Foundation and a First Award from the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. He also was the recipient of a Julius Rosenwald Fellowship for creativity in art. He received honorary doctorates from Morgan State College in Baltimore and Atlanta University.

He died in New York City on September 6, 1980.