Fran Reed was born and raised in La Jolla, California. She still owns the house her father bought the year she was born. It is two blocks from the ocean and the water has always been important to her. She was a competitive swimmer in high school and swam many ‘rough water’ swims. A graduate of the University of Oregon with a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education, she began teaching weaving at a local art school in Eugene, Oregon. She moved to Fairbanks in 1969, and continued to teach weaving and other related fiber arts.
In 1986 Fran began working with fish skin, using ‘river kill’ pulled from the Chena River. When her husband, Dick, an architect, was asked to design a major project in Anchorage, they moved south. Being in south central Alaska offers greater access to fish and she continues to incorporate fish skins in her work. She has done extensive independent research on Alaskan fish skin and gut work and she is included in the book Arctic Clothing, published by the British Museum Press.
Reed has exhibited in numerous shows throughout the United States and occasionally in Europe. In 1993 she received the WESTAF/NEA Regional Fellowship for Visual Artists. In 1996 she was the Lila Wallace Artist in Giverny France, which constituted a three-month residency at Claude Monet’s home and garden. In 1997 she was commissioned to make the Governor’s Art Awards, separate baskets presented to each of the award recipients. She received a Rasmuson Artist Fellowship in 2007. In 1989 Fran was adopted into the Tsimshian Killer Whale clan. She is a member of the Northwest Designer Craftsmen organization and The Friends of Fiber Arts International.