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Bill Abright
American ceramist

American ceramist Bill Abright studied under Bruce Duke at San Joaquin Delta College, receiving an AA in 1970 and at San Francisco State University, earning a BA in 1973 and an MA in 1974. He has taught at the College of Marin in Kentfield, California since 1975 and has been the Chairman of Fine and Visual Arts since 1997. He was awarded the Hayward Award for Excellence in Education by the College of Marin Academic Senate in 1996.

Left: Bill Abright in the Studio. Photo by Charles Kennard

All Apart of Me, Soda-fired constructed ceramic w/steel base, 2001.
18 in w. x 63 in h. x 12 in d.
The Nose I¹d Choose to Lose, Soda fired constructed ceramic w/ steel base, 2001.
16 in w. x 63 in h. x 10 in d.

Abright’s sculptures are constructed post-firing by combining related elements with adhesives into a cohesive whole, and are finished with a variety of media, including glaze, steel, paint and pencil.

Rotation, ceramics with mixed media
and cold finish, 2002. W. 40 in.

Inspired by Paleobiology, his work focuses on animal forms, fish, insects and the human figure, often morphing species or combining elements from different biological sources.. He has been a member of NCECA since 1978.


Above: Mariner, Soda-fired ceramic w cold finish, 2001. 14 in w. x 15 in h. x 9 in d.

Artists Statement

Art should represent the leap as well as the landing of an idea. My best work doesn’t know its end in the beginning. The urge to create has always been a part of me and the ability of clay to record impressions and accept a variety of input resonates with my fingertips. The process of firing this once soft mass to permanence draws me to it like a moth to a primal flame. After working in clay for 34 years I like the feel of it more than ever.

As an art student I thought I would be a painter, but after two years of exploring mediums at Delta College I started focusing on ceramics. I finished my education at San Francisco State in the early 70’s working on large nature inspired vessel forms. Now I merge mediums as needed to complete my work with clay, glaze, steel, paint and pencil. I have pioneered the technique of post-fired constructed ceramic sculpture by combining related elements with adhesives into a cohesive whole.

Inspired by the complexity of the natural world, acute observations of species are often my starting points. Paleobiology is fascinating to me and I take extinction very seriously. My most recent series of sculptures has focused on fish, insects and human figures. I merge the morphology of nature into my figurative work to communicate parallels with man’s existence, and I insert human contradictions among animal species to emphasize a link between their fate and ours.

My process is one of exploring my own imagination. I will initiate a form with deliberate intent; however, it is always the unexpected discovery that I hope will occur. Clay surfaces are my canvases yet my forms contain space and I open them up and use their interiors to add complexity and depth. I am ever curious about what’s inside and what makes things work. This investigation into the interior of my figures parallels my own search for a better understanding of myself.

Creative realization often occurs when I’m not looking for it as I seek balance in the activities of my life. I have made a living teaching and making art. Having a family has expanded my heart and deepened my empathy for mankind. Being active outdoors has given me some profoundly beautiful experiences with nature. I am lucky to have had moments of “Oneness.” I continue to live and work in search of these moments.

Left: Bloodline, ceramics with cold finish and mixed media, 2003. H. 60 in.

Images & statement courtesy Bill Abright. © The Artist


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