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Douglas Kinsey, artist, teacher, counselor, and friend, died at home on Saturday, May 21, 2022. He arrived in South Bend almost by accident in 1968, a late appointment to the Notre Dame faculty, but remained to leave his mark in his own quiet way on the arts in South Bend through his teaching, his activities in the arts and his own work.
Douglas was born in Oberlin, Ohio, on March 4, 1934, the middle child of Dan Chapin Kinsey and Dorothy (Gross) Kinsey. The extraordinary wealth of classical music and fine art in the tiny college town of Oberlin were the perfect incubator for his involvement in the arts. The tradition of social concern of the College and the town, along with his parents’ involvement with social justice and the Religious Society of Friends, built the value system that he would express through his art. After graduating from Westtown Friends School, he returned for a BA at Oberlin College (1957) and continued for an MFA at the University of Minnesota (1960).
Before Douglas came to South Bend, he had teaching appointments at Oberlin, the University of North Dakota (tenured) and Berea College. Trained under the process ideas of Abstract Expressionism, he found figures creeping into his own work. His concern for those in crisis, dispossessed by war or natural disaster, made him turn to news photographs as an inspiration, not to copy a photograph but to find a posture that might pique a composition. He has had more than 70 one man shows, not only in America but also internationally. He has provided illustration for more than two dozen books, often books of poetry in which he worked closely with poet friends. His work has been shown frequently at the Snite Museum at Notre Dame and at the South Bend Museum, both of which hold collections of his work. In addition, he and Jake Webster began the series of Art and Social Justice competitive shows at the Colfax Cultural Center, providing a place for others to show their concerns.
His studio at Notre Dame and his home were famously open to students for counsel on art or on life. His teaching at Notre Dame was recognized with both the Sheedy Award and the Kaneb Award for teaching excellence. He taught abroad for Notre Dame in London and in Paris. He and his wife made frequent pilgrimage to absorb lessons from art and architecture at home and abroad. He took leave from Notre Dame for a year to teach at Kobe College (Kobe Jogakuin) in Japan and delight in an art which had greatly affected his values for composition. He became professor emeritus at Notre Dame in 1999 but still provided critiques and insights to students.
Douglas was also among the Quaker sympathizers who discovered each other in South Bend and subsequently founded the South Bend Friends Meeting in 1978. The Meeting was an ongoing expression of his values to which he contributed much work and wisdom.
His love for classical music has been a continuing solace in our times of turmoil. While his early performance skills have been backgrounded to his profession in art and education, his musicality and his facility with flute and recorders have been used with performance groups wherever he has been, often focusing on early music.
He is survived by his spouse, Marjorie Schreiber Kinsey, and his sister, Dea Kinsey Andrews.
A Memorial Meeting after the custom of Friends will be held for Douglas at 2 pm on June 11, 2022, at the South Bend Friends Meeting, 334 West Colfax, South Bend, Indiana
To honor Doug’s memory, please consider a donation to the American Friends Service Committee (afsc.org), the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNrefugees.org), or the World Food Program of the UN (wfpusa.org). Palmer Funeral Homes – River Park Chapel is assisting the family with arrangements. Online condolences may be expressed to the family at www.palmerfuneralhomes.com.