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Heloise Crista, Acclaimed Sculptor and Frank Lloyd Wright Apprentice, Passes Away at 92

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation | Mar 12, 2018

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation is saddened to announce the loss of Heloise Crista, who passed away on March 11, 2018, at her home at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Heloise was born in Kobe, Japan on March 9, 1926. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California.  Heloise joined the Taliesin Fellowship in 1949, not to become an architect, but rather to be in “the atmosphere of such ideas and such people as Mr. and Mrs. Wright and the community of apprentices.”

While at Taliesin, Heloise studied dance under the Wrights’ daughter, Iovanna, and was a respected and extremely talented performer. In addition to dance, Heloise specialized in making highly-decorated and intricate costumes and sets for the performances, known then as “movement performances.” Her performances and creations were influenced by her study of the philosophy of Russian mystic George Gurdjieff, which she continued throughout her life.

“We remember Heloise as a caring mother, a loving friend, and a consummate artist,” said architect Vernon D. Swaback, a fellow Wright apprentice. “For all whose lives she touched, each in our own way, she blesses us still.”


Heloise Crista (center) with Vern Swaback.

Over time, however, Heloise became known for her sculpture, an interest sparked at Taliesin.  Her first major work was a bronze bust of Wright, in 1956, which remains on display in the Garden Room at Taliesin West.  Her sculptures have been incorporated throughout the campus at Taliesin West—where they continue to inspire visitors—and structures designed by the Taliesin Associated Architects, the architecture firm created by apprentices of Wright, following his passing.

“We cherish the magic that Heloise’s work and creativity has brought, and will continue to bring to our community,” said Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation President and CEO Stuart Graff. “Her spirit will live on through her sculptures, which have become an indelible part of the Taliesin West experience.”

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