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Mills professor Anna Valentina Murch dies at age 65

Anna Valentina Murch, professor of studio art at Mills since 1991, died on March 26 as a result of cancer at the age of 65.

Photo of the late studio art professor Anna Valentina Murch's work. (Image courtesy of
Photo of the late studio art professor Anna Valentina Murch’s work. (Image courtesy of

Murch was born in Scotland and grew up in London, where she earned degrees from the University of Leicester, the Royal College of Art and the Architectural Association. Murch had an interest in art installations, scultptures, and ecological design. She often collaborated with her husband Douglas Hollis, who is an environmental artist. Together the two completed numerous commissions which were displayed in places such as the San Jose Civic Center Plaza, the US Federal Courthouse in Fresno and La Fiesta Plaza in Brea, Cali.

According to a March 29 article on, Murch and Hollis met at the San Francisico Art Institute in the 1980s and were married in 1988.

“We were soul mates,” Hollis told the

Murch came to the Bay Area in the 1970s and taught at the San Francisco Art Institute and UC Berkeley before she began teaching at Mills in 1991. During her tenure at Mills, Murch was awarded the Faculty Development Grant numerous times and served as the Joan Danforth Chair of Studio Art from 2005 to 2007.  Her work has been showcased in numerous installations, collections and exhibitions; she also has a long list of awards, including the SECA Award from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Merit Award for Excellence in Architecture from the American Institute of Architecture.

“Anna is very proud of the work she was able to accomplish and knew it would be a part of her legacy, but at the same time she was deeply proud of her teaching at Mills,” Hollis said in the article.

In lieu of flowers, Hollis has requested that donations be sent to the Art Department at Mills.