Kansascape_acrylicSue Jean Covacevich (1905-1998), a native of Wellington, Kansas, who spent most of her career in nearby Winfield. Covacevich’s story is that of a Kansan whose journeys away from home enriched what she had to offer her native state. She established herself as a dynamic artist and educator in south-central Kansas beginning in the 1940s, after spending more than a decade working and teaching in Mexico. Covacevich’s early training took place in the 1920s under the influential painter Birger Sandzén at Lindsborg’s Bethany College. The globally minded Sandzén may have guided her to Mexico City, where she moved in 1932.

In Mexico Covacevich nurtured a creative and scholarly curiosity that, after her return to the U.S. in the 1940s, propelled her to such places as Russia and the Middle East. The artist often pined for her native Kansas, even while she recognized the value of such physical and cultural dislocations. Covacevich’s engagement with other cultures enriched her art and the numerous art education programs she created in Kansas. With her characteristic energy, she touched hundreds of students, from elementary pupils to patients with physical challenges to adult learners, including extension course enrollees at Kansas State University. In keeping with her adventurous attitude, Covacevich worked in many styles and media. Exposure to Mexico’s great public murals inspired her to take on public commissions in Kansas. The subjects of her art range from the landscape of her home state to world monuments to the heliotropic sunflower—an apt metaphor for the artist’s frequent movements and the openmindedness
she brought to her work.