Artists in the WLA: Judith Roth

Artists in the WLA: Judith Roth

The Women and Leadership Archives is proud to be the home of the Judith Roth Papers. This collection includes items from 1945 until 2018, right before her passing. Roth started her life on the East Coast in Boston, Massachusetts. She earned a degree from Boston Museum School and her B.F.A from Tufts University in 1957. Eventually settling in Chicago, she continued her studies and taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College. Roth worked to promote the work of women artists, including herself. Having a varied career, Roth worked with Marshall Field & Company and the Ravenswood Community Council, saw her work displayed all the way in Switzerland, worked with dancers to capture their life, and so much more. 

Figure 1: Judith Roth sitting in front of her artwork, undated.

Judith Roth also took her art skills of the canvas into window designing with famed Chicago department store Marshall Field & Company from 1958 until 1960. Figure three is an example of her display work. Roth participated in Display World Annual Contest in 1960 and won the Lyric Prize Opera: Best Window Design. 

Figure 2: Judith Roth’s The March window display and sketches at Marshall Field & Company in 1960.
Figure 3: Medal presented to Judith Roth for a window display, 1960.

One outreach program Roth organized was the Ravenswood ArtWalk (RAW). In 2001, it started as an addition to the Jane Addams Resource Corporation “Tour of Arts Industry.” By 2005, it included 53 venues and hundreds of local artists. Twenty years later, it still takes pride in highlighting local artists, musicians, and makers. Check out the Ravenswood Communities website about this ongoing signature event. 

Figure 4: ArtWalk Sign, undated.

I first encountered the Judith Roth Papers when coming back to campus this semester. I am rehousing recently donated items (very similar to Graduate Assistant Casey Terry’s experience mentioned last month). Her art has reached a personal connection with me, and she was a remarkable artist. 

As I started on the first box, I realized how extensive and impressive this collection is. I rehoused items and noticed the artwork series highlighting dancers. As a person who danced for several years and enjoys studying dance history, this obviously piqued my interest. Several promotional materials exhibited these pieces, and my appreciation for her artwork grew. One work titled “The Dance” (Fig. 8) was included in the exhibition “Illinois Women Artists: The New Millennium” – a 2001 event that included entries from Marlene Miller and Mary Dritschel. 

Figure 5: Roth’s work “Seated Dancer on a Painted Chair” with a photograph of the model, 1998.
Figure 6: “The Dance Revisited” exhibition promotional postcard featuring her work “Leg Study with Red Warmers,” 2003.
Figure 7: “The Dance Revisited” at the Gallery in Village Hall, Lincolnwood, Illinois, 2003.
Figure 8: The Dance (the pastel work on the brick wall) was also included in the Illinois Women Artists: The New Millennium. Here it and others are featured in “The Dance Revisited” at the Gallery in Village Hall, Lincolnwood, Illinois, 2003.
Figure 9: “The Dance Revisited” at the Gallery in Village Hall, Lincolnwood, Illinois, 2003.

Her dance-related artwork is only a portion of the extent of Roth’s work. She created several exhibitions, and her works can be found at many galleries and collections. Some of her works were exhibited at Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio; National Academy of Design in New York; and J. Rosenthal Fine Arts, Ltd. in Chicago. Some are in the collections of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Illinois, Illinois State Museum, Sandoz/Novartis in Switzerland, and Abbott Laboratories. More recently, the Kohler Foundation holds over 300 of Roth’s paintings and drawings.

I am excited to see how researchers will make use of this collection. For reference requests, please contact, and we are more than happy to assist you!

Miranda is a graduate assistant at the Women and Leadership Archives. She is a second-year Public History Master’s student. Her dream job is to work in a museum, possibly with collections. She enjoys studying dance history as well as 20th-century social changes. In her free time, she tap dances!

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About Women and Leadership Archives

Established in 1994, the Women and Leadership Archives (WLA) collects, preserves, and makes available permanently valuable records of women and women’s organizations, which document women’s lives, roles, and contributions. The WLA grew out of the need to care for the records of Mundelein College and expanded to collect papers of women leaders and women’s organizations. Collection strengths include the subject areas of activism and women’s issues; authors; education; environmental issues; public service; social justice; women religious; and the fine, performance, and visual arts. The WLA is part of the Gannon Center and Loyola University Libraries and serves a wide variety of users, ranging from students and scholars to the general public. The WLA makes records available at the Archives in Loyola’s Piper Hall, offers remote reference services, presents programs, and provides online resources. Staff include a Director, Assistant Archivist, and graduate assistants from Loyola’s Public History Program.

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