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Harding, Blanche Lillibridge
b. August 8, 1908; d. April 5, 2004
Discipline: Ceramics/Pottery, Fiber, Painting, Wood

Born into a Dickinson household that encouraged and nurtured her artistic talents, Blanche Lillibridge Harding studied art under Zoe Beiler at the State Teachers College in that community. After high school, she moved to Grand Forks to study art and ceramics at the University of North Dakota. Later, she traveled to Chicago, where she studied under the well-known painter and illustrator Gaye Woodring Coons.

Although classically trained in painting and ceramics, Harding also produced handweavings and wood carvings and is probably best known for puppetry. She and her husband Roland “Tommy” created and crafted an entire troupe of marionettes that they toured all over the region and country. Called the Gaye Marionettes, the Harding family (which included daughters Gaye, Betty, and Bonnie and sons Gordon and Gary) performed several fairy tales and an original sketch entitled “Teddy Roosevelt in the Badlands.”

Harding died of natural causes on April 5, 2004 in Polson, Montana. She was preceded in death by her husband and daughters Betty and Bonnie; and survived by their remaining children, nine grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

- Ben Nemenoff


Barr, Paul E. North Dakota Artists. Grand Forks: University of North Dakota Library, 1954.

Obituary. Pablo, Montana: Char-Koosta News, April 8, 2004.

Taylor, Edwin Mrs. Catalogue of Art Workers Within North Dakota. Bismarck: American Association of University Women (local branch), 1945.

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