Staples, Clayton Henri
Oil on canvas
34 x 38 inches
Wichita Art Museum, Bequest of Dorothy E. Paynter
Not Currently on Display
About the Artwork
Henri Staples was born in 1892 in Osceola, Wisconsin. His first opportunity to work as a professional artist came as a chalk-talk lecturer for a traveling Chautauqua company. During World War I, Staples served in the Camouflage Division of the United States Navy as a station artist. After the war he attended the Art Institute of Chicago where he taught and served as the director of art at Illinois State Normal University for four years. In 1929, the president of the University of Wichita offered Staples the position of head of the art department. Staples eagerly accepted the job but asked for his assignment to be postponed a year so that he could travel abroad. He traveled and painted in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East before coming to Wichita in 1930.
Staples directed the University of Wichita art department from 1930 to through 1950. One of his first accomplishments was to establish the Bachelor of fine Arts Degree. Later he developed a program in art education and a Master of Fine Arts Degree, the first such degree to be offered in the state of Kansas.
During the summer months Staples traveled to various scenic locations where he painted and conducted summer art classes. He taught for many summers in New England, at Boothbay Harbor, Maine and at Gloucester, Massachusetts. He also worked in Glacier Park, Montana. When he retired from the University in 1950, he organized tours to Europe for students and went on painting trips abroad. He and his wife, Esther Fredeen, settled in the resort area of Cuchara Camps, Colorado. There he directed his own Cuchara School of Art in his studio-barn during the summers.