THE FOUNDATION The Morrison-Shearer Foundation was established in 1991 to preserve and exhibit the works and documentary materials relating to the careers of photographer Helen Balfour Morrison and dancer-choreographer Sybil Shearer; to maintain the Home and Studio as a source of inspiration for others; and to sponsor new creativity. It is a private operating foundation supported entirely by income from the Foundation investments. Since the death of Sybil Shearer in 2005, the Foundation has been managed by a Board of Trustees, named by Ms. Shearer and guided by her wishes as expressed in her document "Purpose and Aims of the Museum" (1985). The Foundation’s current priorities are to complete the publication of Sybil Shearer’s three-volume autobiography, Without Wings the Way is Steep; to preserve and archive all photographs, films, letters, manuscripts, reviews and other memorabilia; to provide modest annual grants in support of current work in the arts, especially dance; to explore the possibilities of creating an artists’ retreat at the home and studio in Northbrook, Illinois; and to share the Morrison-Shearer legacy through a website and other means.

SYBIL SHEARER (February 23, 1912 - November 17, 2005) Sybil Shearer was a leading pioneer of modern dance and arguably one of the finest dancers of the 20th century. She began her career at Bennington and in New York with the Humphrey-Weidman Company and Agnes de Mille. After a critically acclaimed solo debut at Carnegie Hall in 1941, Ms. Shearer moved to Chicago, where she taught at Roosevelt College and worked independently, close to nature, and in her own unorthodox way. Soon after arriving, she met photographer, Helen Balfour Morrison, who became her lighting director, photographer, filmographer, and artistic collaborator for the next forty years. Ms. Shearer has been described as an original, provocative, unpredictable, a maverick, a poet of movement, a near legendary figure, and a gentle rebel. Critic Walter Terry called her "one of the world's foremost dancers" (Saturday Review, Feb 7, 1979), stating that her "technical skill, creative independence, and unpredictable innovations have made her what is known as 'a dancer's dancer'."

HELEN BALFOUR MORRISON (August 1, 1901 – November 6, 1984) In the 1930s and 1940s, Helen Balfour Morrison photographed some 200 notable personalities, among them Robert Frost, Helen Hayes, Nelson Algren, Frank Lloyd Wright, Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein, Mies van der Rohe, Amelia Earhart, Jane Addams, and Saul Bellow; , as well as persons from all walks of life. Most of these portrait sessions took place in Chicago or in New York and were exhibited widely in museums. Morrison was said to be able to "photograph the soul" (art critic J. B. Newman); and to possess the "uncanny ability to look into people and let the surface of a person reveal the inner being on a momentary as well as an eternal basis" (Sybil Shearer, 1990). Her collaboration with Sybil Shearer produced a large collection of extraordinary dance photographs and films, as well as an intense and sensitive documentation of the life of this artist. Today her extensive portfolio remains largely unpublished and unknown, something the Morrison-Shearer Foundation is working to rectify..

The Morrison-Shearer Foundation   401 Lee Road   Northbrook, IL 60062
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