Edit Current Bio
UCB is written collaboratively by you and our community of volunteers. Please edit and add contents by clicking on the add and edit links to the right of the content

Wilhelmina McAlpin Godfrey

Born on 8-27-1914. She was born in Philadelphia, PA. She was accomplished in the area of the Arts. She later died on 5-13-1994.
  • Basic Info
  • Attachments
  • Relations
  • Organizations
  • Accomplishments
  • Schools
  • Employers
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Wilhelmina McAlpin was raised and educated in Buffalo. She was married to William Godfrey, Jr., for fifty-eight years and they had one child, Carol Godfrey Wing.

She once told a reporter that she had drawn and painted all her life. She took all the art classes available at Fosdick Masten Park High School, but the Depression interrupted her art education until the mid-1940s, when she won scholarships to the Art Institute of Buffalo and the Albright Art School. Her paintings from that era documented life on Buffalo's east side. In 1951, she organized and taught painting and drawing classes at the former Michigan Avenue YMCA in Buffalo. In 1958, she began weaving after seeing an exhibit in Rochester, New York and produced abstract works that borrowed themes and designs from African art.

She was an artist for eleven years at AM&A's department store, leaving in 1963 to pursue her studio work full time. She organized the weaving department at the University at Buffalo and was an instructor at its Creative Craft Center from 1967 to 1970. She also was a founder and director of the Langston Hughes Center. During this period, Wilhelmina organized and taught creative craft classes at St. Philip's Episcopal Church's Community Center.

In 1974, she received a craftsmen's fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and earned a scholarship to the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine. She served as Crafts Adviser to the Buffalo Wider Horizons Craft Program, the National Endowment for the Arts craftsmen's fellowship in 1976. In 1979, she presented a paper with slides titled The Negro Slave Crafts Workers of North and South Carolina at the first National African American Crafts Conference Symposium in Memphis, Tennessee.

Her commissions included a triptych altar painting for St. Philip's Episcopal Church and a five-panel altar painting for St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in Buffalo. In 1990, she was recognized with the Buffalo and Erie County Arts Council's Individual Artist Within the Community Award. During that same year, a retrospective of her paintings, prints, and weaving was exhibited at Medaille College, which created a gallery so it could display her works.~none~~In December 1994, the Burchfield-Penney Art Center's Art Committee voted to accept Wilhelmina's City Playground, 1949-50 for inclusion in the permanent collection. The work was donated by her husband and daughter. Mrs. Godfrey's works have been purchased locally and across the United States.

She was a life member of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery; past officer of the Albright-Knox Members Council and the Buffalo Craftsmen; board member of the New York State Craftsmen; member of the African American Crafts Council, the American Sector of the World Crafts Council; member of the National Conference of Artists; and member of Arts Development Services of Buffalo. She also was a member of the advisory board for the Arts Committee for Erie Community College City Campus and the art advisory committee of Buffalo's Metro Rail system.

Mrs. Godfrey was a seventy-year member of St. Philip's Episcopal Church. She organized the church's Girls Friendly Society in 1951, and was a past president of St. Philip's Episcopal Churchwomen. She also was a member of St. Philip's Community Center, past member of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York's Church Mission of Help, and chairwoman of Episcopal Churchwomen for the Central Erie Deanery from 1968 to 1970.

She was a past president of Beta Phi Chapter of Iota Phi Lambda sorority and was the sorority's journalist for the Eastern Region and assistant to its national publicity chairman. Mrs. Godfrey was a gourmet cook, an avid fisherman, and a creative seamstress.~none