Alum Moore is featured at Society for Contemporary Craft

Jillian Moores work on display at the Society for Contemporary Craft, Pittsburg, PA

Jillian Moores work on display at the Society for Contemporary Craft, Pittsburg, PA

Jillian Moore, BFA 2004, has continued her pursuit of the unusual and is being recognized for her great talent and successful work.

From the Society for Contemporary Craft blog.

The work of Jillian Moore is bright and colorful, shiny and bold. It can also be slightly disturbing in that it-looks-like-something-that-is-supposed-to-gross-me-out-but-I-don’t-want-to-look-away kind of ways. Moore creates wearable pieces that abstractly reference biology. Working from micro to macro, her objects mimic that which is too small to be seen, such as viruses and bacterias, and that which is contained within our bodies. The glossy finishes accentuate the organic forms of organs and microorganisms, giving them the slimy and slick appearance one might expect of such unfamiliar anatomies.

Having earned her MFA in Jewelry and Metal Arts from the University of Iowa on the coat tails of having completed a BFA in Metalsmithing and Jewelry from Western Illinois University one might expect to recognize more metal in her pieces. The truth is, it is often difficult to parse out exactly what materials are used in making these extraordinary objects. I admit, I found the lack of material definition immediately provocative. As a jack-of-all-trades maker, I often examine closely the type of materials artists use, the technique and appropriateness for both, but Moore’s work is not willing to be so easily read. Pieces that appear to made from great gobs of glass and to have great weight prove themselves to be nearly weightless and far less fragile than expected. Free-standing objects have such movement that they appear to be boyant, yet they are heavy with the copper form that lies deep under many layers of paint.

Read more and see more images of her work on the SCC blog site.

Alum Myers’s Work Published in Ironwork Book

Matt M. Myers, BFA 2004, in metalsmithing and jewelry design. Since graduating Matt has taught himself blacksmithing, welding and forging. He even built his own coal forge and now runs his own studio The Black Toad Forge.

Ironwork Today 3: Inside & Out, book cover

Ironwork Today 3: Inside & Out, book cover

Schiffer Publishing contacted Matt requesting both photographs and a brief explanation of some of his steel sculpture. The six images and descriptions Matt sent were recently published in the book Ironwork Today 3: Inside & Out in a four page spread. Ironwork Today 3 is a collection of over 450 vivid color photos providing a sweeping overview of an amazing range of iron artwork being created by 82 of today’s artist-blacksmiths.

The images submitted were taken by Western Illinois University’s own photographer, Larry Dean. Congratulations to Matt M. Myers and a special thanks to Larry Dean.

Bird and Snake Sconce Hand forged mild steel with canvas 24”x 12”x 7” Photo: Larry Dean

Bird and Snake Sconce Hand forged mild steel with canvas 24”x 12”x 7” Photo: Larry Dean

Ryan Kelly visits WIU Art Department

Ryan Kelly workshop at WIU

Ryan Kelly workshop at WIU

The Western Illinois University Art Department, the Visiting Lectures Committee, the University Theme Committee and the Provost’s Office welcomed Visiting Artist Ryan W. Kelly February 6-10th, 2012.

Ryan’s work presents a discovery of new media and technology in regards to collaborative and interdisciplinary practice, posing questions of pedagogy, research, and learning. Ryan Kelly visited with students and educators alike lecturing on the expansion of the ever re-evaluated practice of artistic production prior to and after the use of new technologies. He continues to question the depth of understanding within the context of the continually changing definition of art.

While visiting WIU Kelly presented several workshops; juried a Student Exhibition; gave a formal artist talk and helped with interactive exhibition.

Shawn Spangler and the department of art would like to thank Ryan W. Kelly for his time and the numerous contributors for support to make Kelly’s visit possible.

For information concerning Kelly’s visit or the Clay Club, please contact Shawn S. Spangler at

Hallberg Breaks Bridge Record!

Bridges are just for engineers!

Bridges are just for engineers!

Victoria Hallberg, sophomore, Franklin Park, IL, el ed major, breaks the current “bridge to nowhere” record with a new record of 98 pounds.

Each bridge is expected to span a 12 inch gap. Students are to use only one bag of clay. Hallberg’s bridge, “The Church” established her as a formidable clay bridge engineer amongst a fierce group of competitors this semester.

Congratulations Victoria, a Job well done

Spangler to Teach Summer Workshop

Work by Shawn Spangler.

Work by Shawn Spangler.

Shawn Spangler will teach a summer workshop from July 2 to 6 at prestigious Sante Fe Clay in New Mexico.  This will be the 15th summer series at Sante Fe Clay.

Shawn’s workshop is titled Structuring Compositions: Exploring Wheel Thrown Forms.

Complex, articulated pots are often created by assembling multiple wheel thrown parts. Using porcelain clay, students will begin by creating a variety of components on the wheel, and will then play with editing and arranging these components to make dynamic composite forms. Handles, spouts and lids will then be incorporated to add complexity to the forms. Demonstrations and conversations will address elements of design such as scale, proportion, line and volume. Dry work will be bisque fired.

Shawn’s bio.

Shawn Spangler recently completed a long-term residency at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia and is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Western Illinois University. He holds a BFA in ceramics from Penn State University and an MFA from Alfred University. He was a resident artist in Sanbao, China in 2003, an experience that strongly influenced his work. He exhibits nationally, and has lectured and taught workshops at many venues across the US.

Charles Wright Nominated to CAA Board

Nominees for College Art Association Board 2012

Nominees for College Art Association Board 2012, Charles Wright bottom, center.

From University Relations:

MACOMB, IL – Charles A. Wright, chair of Western Illinois University’s Department of Art, has been named a candidate for the College Art Association’s (CAA) Board of Directors. He is joined on the ballot by a small contingency of academics from institutions including Harvard and the Art Institute of Chicago.

A position on the organization’s Board of Directors provides an opportunity to enhance the group’s inner workings from its financial stability to its strategic direction. The board is also responsible for setting the policy which governs all CAA activities, including publishing, the annual conference, awards and fellowships, advocacy and committee procedures.

Wright first joined the CAA as a graduate student working toward his MFA in sculpture from Washington University in St. Louis (MO). He describes the organization as “a priceless resource.”

Throughout the years, he has held various positions in the CAA, including serving for the past three years as chair of the CAA’s Professional Practices Committee (PPC). The PCC responds to members’ concerns, as well as helps the Board of Directors develop standards and guidelines. Wright said his service as PPC chair has given him opportunities to learn how universities throughout the nation address critical workplace issues for university art professors.

Wright’s platform emphasizes the importance of the visual arts in the lives of individuals and communities. The voting is currently in session, and will conclude at 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24. Voting is open to all CAA members with a valid member ID.

Wright was named chair of WIU’s art department in July 2007. He had served as chair of the Department of Art at Coastal Carolina University, guiding the art program there through national accreditation, a feat which he repeated for WIU upon his arrival in Macomb. His work, comprised mostly of large-scale sculptures in such media as wood, steel, Plexiglas, stone, and various combinations, can be found in private and public collections in both the Midwest and on the East Coast.

For more information about the College Art Association, visit

Walters Art in Plain Sight-First National Bank Building

First National Bank building, Davenport, IO Photo by Bruce Walters

First National Bank building, Davenport, IA. Photo by Bruce Walters

Bruce Walters latest Art in Plain Sight is about the First National Bank in Davenport, IA.  As always, always in plain sight and maybe not as appreciated as it should be, thanks to Walters for directing attention to the art all around us.

The entrance to the First National Bank Building (now U.S. Bank) at 201 West Second Street in Davenport tells the story of commerce and banking through classical images and symbols. The ancient Greek and Roman references and high artistic level of the entrance tell us, in effect, that banking is an important institution – one of the cornerstones of Western civilization and a pillar of the community.

The entrance is primarily composed of three parts: an intricately cast bronze doorway, two reclining life-sized figures carved in stone above the doorway, and four smaller figures in the stone reveal on both sides of the doorway. Collectively, the three parts create an impressive and unified whole.

Read more and see more images of the First National Bank building.

Alum DeWitt Retires and Begins to Work

Martin DeWitt

Martin DeWitt

Martin DeWitt, BA 1970 and MA 1976, has retired as the founding director and curator of the Fine Art Museum at Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC and as of January 2011, he is a full-time artist and consultant at Martin DeWitt Studio + Fine Arts Services in Duluth, MN.

After WIU, DeWitt received his master’s degree in fine art from Illinois State University in 1978. He began his career in 1980 as executive director of the Rockford Art Association in Illinois. From 1989-2003, he was director of the Tweed Museum of Art at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Concurrent with his arts administrative and curatorial duties as Founding Director of the Fine Art Museum, Western Carolina University (2003-2010), De Witt taught gallery and museum management practices to include the business of art, grant writing, and exhibit and collections planning and management.

Congratulations to Martin DeWitt.

"Tartan Clearing - Great Cranberry Island, Maine," Martin DeWitt

"Tartan Clearing - Great Cranberry Island, Maine," Martin DeWitt

Spangler’s Work Makes the Cover of Ceramics Monthly

Shawn Spangler

Shawn Spangler, pot on the cover of Ceramics Monthly

Shawn Spangler, ceramics faculty, made the cover of the January issue of Ceramics Monthly.  The issue includes an article titled “Shawn Spangler: Variations on Simplicity.”

Ceramics Monthly is the “… the world’s largest ceramics magazine, Ceramics Monthly serves a wide variety of readers, including professionals artists, educators, students and enthusiasts.”

Check out Ceramic Monthly on Facebook.  Shawn’s pot is the current profile picture of the Ceramics Monthly Facebook account.

Walters Does Christmas Lights?

The John Deere Commons. Photo by Bruce Walters.

The John Deere Commons. Photo by Bruce Walters.

For his most recent Art in Plain Sight, Bruce Walters has photographed and written about the Christmas lights in the QC.  He makes a good case for the “folk art” of Christmas lights.  Read on.

It’s easy to start taking outdoor Christmas lights for granted about now. They have been draped over trees and strung along porch railings and under the eaves for weeks – even longer in the shopping centers.

Though often used with little real thought, they have symbolic connotations. It is intriguing to think of them as a modern equivalent of the Yule log that warmed our distant ancestors during the winter solstice. Or the guiding star over Bethlehem on the first Christmas.

Pause for a moment and consider how remarkable it is that these tiny electric lights can transform a bleak winter night into a delicately laced wonderland. How leafless trees can become magical, and simple homes can become places of wonderment. How they brighten more than the longest nights of the year. How fond memories grow from these fragile strings of lights.

Outdoor lights are typically like party decorations used to lend a festive air, although a unique Christmas display might be regarded as a kind of folk art. And the John Deere Commons in Moline is transformed into a spectacular landscape simply by the electric lights wrapped around the trees between the Deere Pavilion and the i Wireless Center. It is not out the question to think of such a display as environmental art.

Read the rest of the article in the River City Reader.