Byron McKeeby was born on February 27, 1936, in Humboldt, Iowa. A devoted artist from a young age, McKeeby expressed a fondness for art as a child, and his avid interest spurred him to pursue a career in the field. McKeeby earned degrees from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; the Art Institute of Chicago in Illinois; and Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, and he received the Tamarind Teacher-Student Fellowship with the prominent lithographer Garo Antreasian during the summer of 1965. Soon after, McKeeby joined the University of Tennessee in Knoxville as head of the printmaking department.
McKeeby once said, “Great art concerns itself not with art, but with awakening the human consciousness to itself.” The artist’s words define his material, which is distinguished by themes of humor, satire, nature, and mortality. While McKeeby was highly acclaimed for his talent in print media, his main interest lay in the nearly forgotten art of stone lithography.
McKeeby suffered from diabetes, which resulted in his premature death at the age of forty-eight on November 3, 1984, in Knoxville. After his death, the University of Tennessee mounted a traveling exhibition including more than fifty of McKeeby’s works. The exhibition traveled within Tennessee as well as in North Carolina and South Carolina.
McKeeby’s print Hey Diddle Fiddle is part of Georgia’s State Art Collection.