Bill Wilkey shares his experiences with MU artists, community


Hannah Swartz


An artist talk and demonstration by Bill Wilkey took place Monday at the Visual Arts Center and Marshall Art Warehouse.

During the artist demonstration, Wilkey made different pieces to show the attendees how he makes his ceramic dishplates and pitchers, among others.

Wilkey said he thinks ceramics is the easiest to communicate, and said he wants to communicate in his work that his work has a sense of caring and lasting quality. He said he also thinks a lot of people have an immediate familiarity with ceramics, and that’s what draws people in.

“I try and communicate sensuality of the material,” Wilkey said. “It first relies on the sense of seduction, I want people to be drawn to the surface, or to the form, and I want them to be rewarded when they pick it up and, when they look around it, I want them to discover things that they find interesting. I want them to have a lasting relationship with the pot that I made.”

During the talk, Wilkey shared his “influspiration” (influence and inspiration), which included his dad and grandpa, and his trip to Florence, Italy, with the main focus on Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome. He even shared why he textures his work the way he does. He grew up in the south, so the tin roofing on barns resemble the texture.

“Art to me is a reaction to the world around you,” Wilkey said. “And I finally made the connection with why I make the textures the way I do on my pots — it reminds me of happy memories.”

Wilkey often reflects upon the time when he was in high school where he had his first
opportunity to do ceramics — and failed.

“I tried it and I immediately failed and was taken aback. And so, I was challenged by it immediately it still pushes me and challenges me today,” Wilkey said.

“It’s a really big deal for us as a university that only has an undergrad art program,” Kelsie Tyson, senior ceramics major and Keramos Clay Club president said. “A lot of the time if we want to see art or meet artists we have to go away or go to conferences and just travel a little bit, so being able to bring in, and have the funds to do that, is amazing and a great opportunity not only for our club or our students, but for the community.”

The second part of the artist demonstration was held Tuesday from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Art Warehouse.

Hannah Swartz can be contacted at [email protected]