Viola Hansen, born in Seattle in 1898, attended UW and graduated in 1921 with a degree in librarianship. She also studied art at UW, married artist and School of Art Professor Ambrose Patterson in 1922, and completed a BFA at UW in 1925. The Pattersons traveled the world as artists, including a number of stays in Paris where Viola studied and was highly influenced by the impressionist movement and its followers (in fact, she was the first woman born in Seattle to study art in Paris) . Ambrose and Viola are seen as among the first to bring modern art to the Seattle arts scene. Viola had a large number of exhibitions of both paintings and sculpture in Washington, Oregon, and New York, including regular showing in the Seattle Art Museum's annual exhibition, where her works won numerous awards. She received an MFA from UW and became a Professor in the UW School of Art in 1947.
Viola Patterson died in 1984 at the age of 86 in the longtime home that she had shared with Ambrose Patterson in Laurelhurst.
Her 1955 still life painting can be seen in the student services suite on the first floor of the Gates Center.