Reflections – Renowned Artist

June 24, 2022

Cora Miner taught art in the Sycamore schools from 1915-1960, when she became a private art instructor.

She had graduated from the Valparaiso Fine Arts Academy and had studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and the Chicago Applied Art School.

Cora Miner was one of DeKalb County’s well-renowned artists. This photo was used on the dedication page of the 1941-1942 Sycamore High School Yearbook.

Miner enjoyed drawing from the time she was old enough to hold a pencil. In a 1977 interview in the Chronicle, when Miner was 88, she recalled, “My mother said I drew from the age of two and a half.” It was her mother who had inspired her love for art.

In her youth, she found that her art had value. “You know, back then we didn’t buy our clothes at stores; we went to dress makers”, she said. “I remember one picture very well. It was a panel of beautiful purple grapes, and I got a dress for it.”

(Above) Cora Miner’s painting “Pioneer Home” was exhibited at the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago. (Right) The World’s Fair exhibit guide from 1933.

She had attended art school intending to be a children’s book illustrator, but was advised to first be a teacher. This would allow her to earn money to continue her studies while learning more about children and their likes and dislikes. She ended up teaching most of her life.

One of the highlights in her life was exhibiting a painting in the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933. She showed her painting “Pioneer Home” at the All Illinois Society of the Fine Arts show there.

During a 1955 presentation, she discussed how she cultivated her art. “The popular conception of art is that it is spontaneous, but she advised careful planning,” the Sycamore True Republican said. “Learning to draw with imagination and skill is like raising a garden, the planting coming first, then hoeing and weeding before a good crop is obtained,” Miner explained.

She retired from teaching in 1960, though she continued to substitute for many years. After her retirement, she taught evening classes for six years.

Miner later hosted students in her own home. There she gave three lessons a week for three hours a piece. “When I took private lessons way back when, I paid $5 a lesson,” she said. “I charge $1.50 a lesson for my students here, but the utilities went up so high, I raised it to $2. I don’t make any money off them. I use the money for coffee and cookies we have after the lessons.”

She continued to make art for many years. Miner died at the age of 99.

Want to see more of Cora’s paintings? Visit the DeKalb County History Center exhibition “DeKalb County in 100 Objects” to see her 1933 painting and other art works by Cora Miner.

Information provided by the DeKalb County History Center. For more information visit www.DeKalbCountyHistory.org.


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