Joan Gibson was born in Flint, Michigan and lived in Ann Arbor between the ages of 10 and 22. She attended the University of Michigan for four years then lived, worked and attended art classes in San Francisco Bay area for the next 7 years. During this time Gibson married Don Wurster, who is also from Ann Arbor, and moved to Omaha 27 years ago. Wurster became an insurance executive for National Indemnity and Gibson began overseeing the renovation of their 90-year-old house and volunteering in the Omaha community.
Gibson has served on the boards of the Dundee Memorial Park Association, Friends of Joslyn Castle, the Charles B. Washington Library, and the Friends of Art. She was the Arts Chair of the Omaha Chapter of the Links, the vice-chair of the Nebraska Arts Council, and she is currently an emeritus board member of the Literacy Center. While Gibson now manages the completion of the last phases of their house renovation, she also continues working as an artist in her third-floor studio. Gibson says, "I believe this is an important time to support the arts and consider the Bemis to be a vital part of our community. We look forward to more fully appreciating the impact of the Bemis on the national and international art scenes."