Born August 5, Boston, Mass., first of three sisters (Anita, 1904, and Dorothy, 1906), and one brother (James, 1908), daughter of Hilda Waterman Rice and Emmanuel Rice.
Family moves to western Massachusetts, living briefly in Pittsfield, settling in Great Barrington.
Playing in field near home, artist undergoes experience that directs artistic development: watches sunlight refract in dewdrop on petal.
Children return periodically to Boston to live with maternal grandmother during mother’s illnesses. Father dies circa 1918.
Family moves to 238 New York Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y.
Completes commercial-secretarial course in less than seven months and assumes family’s support as stenographer.
Attends evening classes at Art Students League, Manhattan. Begins three-year studies with Richard Lahey.
Marries Humberto Pereira, commercial artist, painter. Lives in Manhattan, continuing to work as secretary.
Studies with Jan Matulka at Art Students League.
First trip to Europe, late summer 1931. Visits Academie Moderne, Paris, then travels to Switzerland, Italy and North Africa. In the Algerian Sahara undergoes a second experience that profoundly affects artistic development: “I learned that there were intense areas of feelings that could not be interpreted through objects … the impact of these mysterious forces left me stunned, shattered for many months.”
Returns to New York via Cherbourg in January. Spends summer painting in Provincetown, Mass. Begins painting ship paraphernalia.
Paintings of this period depict “a feeling process of man in a machine world trying to establish his position–or rather my own position.”
Has first solo show, at American Contemporary Arts (ACA) Gallery, New York.
Exhibits in Second Biennial Exhibition, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Executes series of wharf and boat paintings symbolizing, for her, the beginning of a voyage of discovery. Realizes she is frightened by machinery, begins to “dismantle” and “reorganize” machinery paintings in effort to re-establish footing in machine-world.
Plans industrial design curriculum in 1935 for the New York Laboratory School of Design of the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Arts Project. Instructs in design synthesis, painting and composition. Remains on faculty when in 1937 the Federation of Architects, Engineers, Chemists and Technicians takes over the laboratory. Resigns from Design Lab in October 1939. Works in WPA’s Easel Division, 1937-39, doing experimental work in 1939 in the new technical laboratory. Begins lifelong correspondence with scientists and manufacturers of chemical, glass, paint, plastic, and other materials. Colors now become vibrant, a process that will continue.
Moves toward abstraction, painting Six Black Squares, but first calling it Transfer Ticket; it employs Chinese-like ideographs which the artist paints while singing with “the feeling that I was writing an ancient language that I
could no longer read–I was writing my own ticket.”
Receives divorce from Pereira. Has solo show at Howard University, Washington, DC. Does collage, superimposing actual ticket and newsprint headline entitled “Sing a New Song” on depictions of machinery. In 1950, after 18 years of experimenting, artist will write “I had transferred from the machine to the unknown white center,” which she would often represent by bare canvas. From now on she conceives of her eye as feeling rather than seeing. Period of abstraction begins.
Paintings reflect absorption with dealing with shadows: how to make them real, how to project their implications. Has solo show at Julien Levy Gallery, New York.
Begins work at Museum of Non-Objective Painting as museum assistant. Works there until 1942. Experiments intensely with such materials as mica, string, toy parts, glyptal resin, sand, tape, wood, plastic, glass, trapezoidal canvas and parchment, box and electrified frames. Works with glass. Begins to believe that “symbols are essences of the properties of space.”
First paintings on parchment. Begins periodic summer trips to Nantucket, Mass., that continue through 1949. Sister Dorothy, to whom she will dedicate all her writings, dies of cancer in September.
Marries George Wellington Brown, engineer. They share a fascination with materials and the relationship of science to art. Teaches design at Pratt Institute through January 1943. Moves to apartment-studio at 121 West 15th St.,
Manhattan, where she will remain until December 1970.
Resigns from Pratt Institute when diagnosed with cancer. Undergoes radical mastectomy.
First museum purchase: â€œComposition in White,â€ The Newark Museum. Solo show at Art of This Century Gallery, New York.
Turns from painting on glass to translating the knowledge gained to larger works on canvas. Wins $500 award at Pepsi-Cola Third Annual Exhibition. Exhibits in â€œFourteen Americans,â€ Museum of Modern Art, New York. Included in U.S. Statement show, Advancing American Art.
Has solo show at San Francisco Museum of Art.
Begins Jungian psychoanalysis. Has solo show at Barnett-Aden Gallery, Washington, DC.
Separates from George Brown. Spends autumn in Paris. Finds broad interest in her paintings on glass and ideas about optics. Back in Manhattan, undergoes third of life-changing experiences: interprets dream of a comet to mean that number represents psychic realities.
Receives divorce from Brown. Spends summer working in London, briefly visiting Wiltshire, Lancashire. Moves to Salford, England, a suburb of Manchester, and marries George Reavey, Irish poet and translator of â€œDr. Zhivago,â€ who teaches Russian grammar and literature at University of Manchester. Exhibits two paintings at Institute of Contemporary Arts, London. Writes â€œCrystal of the Rose,â€ restating childhood realization while watching dewdrop that â€œGod is the sun.â€ Smog-shrouded Manchester oppresses her; her paintings of this period are the darkest of her career.
Returns to Manhattan. Teaches art at Ball State University, Muncie, IN., during summer. Reavey joins her in Manhattan in autumn. Publishes her first philosophical essay, â€œLight and the New Reality,â€ in â€œPalette.â€
Solo exhibitions at Syracuse University, N.Y., and Dayton Art Institute, Ohio. Publishes â€œThe Transformation of Nothing and the Paradox of Space.â€ Creates last glass paintings.
Retrospective exhibition at Whitney Museum of American Art, Manhattan; exhibition travels to Des Moines Art Center, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, San Francisco Museum of Art. Solo exhibitions at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and Durlacher Bros., Manhattan. Spends time at the MacDowell Colony, New Hampshire. Makes first unsuccessful attempts to publish â€œEastward Journey.â€ Publishes â€œThe Transformation of â€˜Nothingâ€™ and the Paradox of Space.â€
Paintings abandon parallelogrammatic, diagonal, trapezoidal structures and become bolder, larger. Leaves Reavey in 1955.
Solo exhibitions, Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C., and Wellons Gallery, Manhattan. Publishes â€œThe Nature of Space: A Metaphysical and Aesthetic Inquiry.â€
Publishes â€œThe Lapis,â€ a book containing watercolors and interpreting a dream concerning the fabled philosopher’s stone (republished in 1968 by Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C.).
Joins Nordness Gallery, Manhattan; has first show there.
1959 Elected Life Fellow of the International Institute of Arts and Letters, Lindau-Bedensee, Germany. Publishes â€œCrystal of the Roseâ€ with the Nordness Gallery, preface by Ranjee Shahani. Receives divorce from Reavey.
First solo exhibition abroad at the Rome- New York Art Foundation and Galleria Obelisco, Rome, Italy. Travels twice to Italy. Visits Caresse Crosbyâ€™s Castle Roccasinibaldi.
Publishes â€œThe Poetics of the Form of Space, Light and the Infinite.â€ Begins lengthy correspondence with scientists involved in space explorations.
Solo exhibition at Amel Gallery, Manhattan.
Travels to Italy and stays at Castle Roccasinibaldi. Travels also to Switzerland and England. Received into Roman Catholic Church.
Joins Galerie Internationale, Manhattan; has first show there.
Publishes â€œThe Transcendental Formal Logic of the Infinite.â€ Becomes regular contributor to the â€œLiterary Half-Yearly,â€ published in Mysore, India.
Hospitalized with severe breathing difficulties. Establishes I. Rice Pereira Foundation. The Corcoran Gallery of Art reprints â€œThe Nature of Space: A Metaphysical and Aesthetic Inquiry.â€
Publishes â€œThe Poetics of the Form of Space, Light and the Infinite.â€ Receives honorary doctorate from Lâ€™Universite Libre (Asie), Karachi, Pakistan, and the International Federation of Scientific Research Societies of Europe, Asia, Africa and America.
Travels to Paris, Madrid, and Brussels. Purchases apartment in Marbella, Spain. Visits clinic in Switzerland. Evicted in December from West 15th Street studio where she has lived for 31 years. Settles in Marbella.
Dies January 11, 1971, in Marbella, Spain.
Estate is administered by I. Rice Pereira Foundation, a charitable trust devoted to helping artists, writers and students, directed by her nephew, Djelloul Marbrook, who also owns copyright to her work.