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Whitworth alumna lives out her love of art

June 5, 2013
An arch created by Gardner at the Human Rights Center in
Coeur d' Alene, Idaho.

Whitworth alumna Betty Gardner, ’08, is an artist whose primary discipline is sculpture in varied media. She lives in Priest River, Idaho, where she continually explores new methods and pursues new projects.

She is currently working on a maquette (a small-scale model) of Nell Shipman, a silent-screen star from the 1920s who formerly resided in Priest Lake. Gardner plans to cast a 24-inch maquette of Shipman and hopes to sell a limited edition, which would fund a full-scale statue to be placed at Priest Lake.

“I love getting lost in the process of using my hands to push the clay and watch it emerge from a lump into something that seems to have a life of its own,” Gardner says.

In 2009, Gardner worked alongside acclaimed sculptor Sister Paula Turnbull, a Catholic nun. Gardner and Turnbull created “Celebration of Life” at the Hillyard Aquatic Center, in Spokane. Turnbull, a local artist, has created well-known works including “Garbage Goat” and “Australian Sundial” in Riverfront Park.

Gardner and her husband hope to one day run a gallery and studio from their home. They are currently building a bronze casting foundry, where they intend to create their sculptures, run a welding operation, and offer classes in various art disciplines.

Gardner graduated from Whitworth with a degree in fine arts. Her professors and fellow art majors awarded her the distinction of “Outstanding Senior Art Student.” Gardner says that former adjunct art faculty Jeff Harris and Carl Stejer impacted her most during her time at Whitworth.

“One of the most important people in the art department is Dee Anna Christiansen, the academic program assistant,” Gardner says. “She made the experience at Whitworth so much more pleasant with her wonderful personality and disposition.”

For more information about Gardner’s artwork, visit

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.