Emmy Lou Packard, born in 1914 in El Centro, Imperial Valley, California, was one of the most famous American fresco artists and printmaking pioneers of the 20th Century. Packard's visual expression and courageous voice earned her international recognition as an artist and activist for peace. Marked by an early encounter with Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, her trajectory evolved from assisting Rivera with mural painting, to her own painting and print exhibitions and fresco projects. This revolutionary influence allowed for her vocal and uncompromising disapproval of several issues, including human rights violations, WWII and the American-Soviet "Cold" and Vietnam wars.
Before her formal art education, Packard studied under Rivera in Mexico, from 1927-1928. She received her B.A. from UC Berkeley in 1936, and went onto study at the California School of Fine Arts. In 1940 she assisted Rivera in creating the 1,650 square foot fresco at the GGIE, and returned with him to Mexico City, where she was a guest of Rivera and Frida Kahlo. During WWII she worked for a Richmond newspaper as a writer and illustrator in California; during this time she also took on roles in human rights activism, fighting for the rights of women and children, and steadfastly supporting the leadership of Cesar Chavez. Meanwhile, Packard's studies of the Mendocino Headlands for her artwork eventually inspired her to become a key promoter in the establishment of the headlands as a National Park.
Along with the manifest social and humanitarian issues, Emmy Lou Packard's work reflects the spirituality of someone born and raised in a land situated at the confluence of two cultures. The American heritage and the Mexican experiences emerge from her work in a peaceful coexistence, displayed beautifully in the color and form of her prints.