It is with great sadness that we recognize the passing of a friend and stalwart of the Chicago art world, Polly Ullrich.
Polly was amazing and her passing is a loss to our art world and local community. She was kind, thoughtful and often set an example that was so blindingly hopeful that it was hard not to follow. I will forever remember her curiosity, interest, enthusiasm, and commitment to fostering a critical community.
She will be missed by all of us that knew her and by this community.
The following shared thanks to her husband David Ullrich.
In lieu of flowers, David has asked donations to be made in Polly’s memory to the Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ.
POLLY H. ULLRICH
Polly Ullrich died suddenly on July 6, 2011, in Woodruff, Wisconsin, from injuries suffered in an automobile accident. Polly’s life was a relentless and intense search for meaning and beauty in art, literature, music, and most of all, in relationships with people. She had the unique ability to capture the meaning and beauty in words in a way that helped others understand. She brought insights and boundless joy to every life she touched. She was the dear spouse and friend of her husband David and loving mother of their son Eric.
Polly was born in Wisconsin Rapids on July 27, 1950 to Phyllis and the late William Huffman. She was an outstanding student and excelled in journalism, forensics and theater productions at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School, where she graduated in 1968. A significant experience during her youth was at Camp Manitowish in Boulder Junction, WI, where over six years she developed her personal strengths and love of the outdoors. She went on to the University of Wisconsin, where she majored in journalism, receiving a bachelor of arts in 1972 and a master’s degree in specialized reporting in 1973. During college, she was an active member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and served as a page in the Wisconsin Assembly. She also wrote for the Daily Cardinal in Madison and for Time magazine.
She and her husband moved to Chicago in 1973, where she continued her writing, starting with United Press International and moving on to do stories for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Chicago Sun Times, and New York Times. Her writing moved more and more toward the art world. In 1980, she stopped writing and decided to learn ceramic art and developed her skills to a point where she was showing her work in Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, Florida, and New York City.
With the birth of their son in 1990, Polly pursued both being a mother to Eric at home and her love of art at the School of the Art Institute, where she received a master’s degree in art history, theory and criticism in 1994. She expanded her writing to include all of the arts, with a special emphasis on crafts as an art form. She lectured and served on panels widely, including at Cranbrook Academy in Michigan, Haystack in Maine, and Art Chicago, as well as writing for a number of national art publications. She also taught at the School of the Art Institute. Polly was active at Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ in Chicago for over thirty five years, where she served as a liturgist for many years and currently as Chair of the Worship Committee.
In addition to her husband of 39 years and 21 year old son, Polly is survived by her mother Phyllis, sister Claire (Hackmann), and brothers Tom and Joel. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Polly’s memory may be made to Wellington Avenue UCC, 615 West Wellington, Chicago, IL, 60657