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Wesely T. Wright: Ceramic Hand Builder

What if turtles could fly and goats could tell you your future?

What if phones rolled up and walked away when your call was finished?  Imagination is a large part of Wesley T. Wright's world but it goes deeper than you might think.  With the skill of a sculptor's hand creatures that never walked the earth manifest into the reality but Wright takes his upbringing and the philosophy of Joseph Campbell to give the viewer a much deeper view into his three dimensional creations.

To see more of Wright's work  
Instagram @wesleytwrightart
His Website
If you are in the Bay Area September 20-25th check out Wesley's work in person
 at Anne & Marks Art Party at the San Jose Fairgrounds.
Also the 4th Street Window Gallery at San Jose City Hall on 4th Street Between San Fernando and Santa Clara. The work can be seen 24 hours a day. This exhibition is for the Centennial Anniversary of San Jose State University and features work from HSU Alumni.

And lastly Wright will be teaching Ceramic Sculpture at Santa Clara University this fall quarter.

An Armadillo Head.  Photo © Aimee Santos

'Cherub' by Wesley T. Wright.  Photo courtesy of the artist.

What made you want to create the cherub?  And why as an animal and not the traditional chubby baby type body?

Much of my work involves reimagining, recombining and reinterpreting myth. I enjoy taking the connotations that come along with certain mythological characters and adding my own eccentric twist

'Idol of the Tribe' by Wesley T. Wright. Image courtesy of the artist.

There is an element of mysticism throughout some of your pieces.  Where does this come from?

I grew up in a progressive almost Unitarian Christian community. The philosophy of Joseph Campbell is a big part of the ideology of this group. I rediscovered his ideas in the past few years and really enjoy his philosophy about underlying human truths that one finds across all religions. When these sacred stories can are interpreted as metaphor and put in to context of place and time there is a lot that one can learn. I embrace an analytical, non-dogmatic spirituality, one that honors the complexity of the universe and the human experience.

Armadillo body detail.  Photo © Aimee Santos

'Bug Phone' by Wesley T. Wright.  Click the photo to buy your own.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Wesley T. Wright working on the 'Idol of the Tribe' in downtown San Jose, CA.  Photo © Aimee Santos

How do your pieces evolve?  Do you sketch any in advance?  Or is it an intuitive process?

I always start my pieces with sketches. Usually I start with an idea sketch that eventually becomes more technical as I suss out the more structural elements of the piece. The drawings are usually not very developed pieces of art in them selves. As I work on a sculpture usually the form and the content of the piece will evolve and become more complex. I do research before and during the process of construction so the entire process becomes a learning experience which concludes with the final piece itself.

Wesley T. Wright working on the 'Idol of the Tribe' in downtown San Jose, CA.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Being a collector of some of your pieces I can say they all make me smile.  Is this your intent for you audience to find a light heartedness in your work?  

The humor is an inherent part of my personality and often comes through in my work. There’s often an absurdity or irony that I’m using to make a point which creates humor.

An overall shot of Wesley T. Wright in his graduate studio last year.  Photo © Aimee Santos

You seem to have a strong balance between commission work, exhibitions and workshops.  How did you set up this work ethic and what aspirations do you have for the future of your ceramics career?

Really it's a free for all. In the future I hope get better at everything and to have more stability, but not enough to lull me out of being creative.

'The Historian' by Wesley T. Wright.  Photo courtesy of the artist.

The creation of 'The Historian.'  Photo © Aimee Santos

What has your work as an artist and as a human being living in 'the place and time' taught you thus far?

It's taught me that I have a great deal more to learn and that it's very exciting to continue this process of trying to figuring out our historical, psychological, and spiritual context as conscious beings.

'The Historian' on it's way to Wright's Thesis show.  Photo © Aimee Santos

Do you find any correlations between an era that time forgot and the one you create with your hands?

I think that we are much closer to our history than we realize. There’s a sense of nostalgia in some of the industrial elements in my work, as well as an appreciation for the patina of time. I also reference ancient stories and place them in a modern context. In this way I’m looking at time in a cyclical way and creating an ancient future.

'Autonomous' by Wesley T. Wright.  Photo courtesy of the artist.

Many people do not know there are different kinds of ceramic artists.  Can you elaborate on what a hand builder is and what a potter is? 

A potter is someone who makes functional vessels on a potter’s wheel. Hand building is a technique of building with clay that does not involve the potter’s wheel but does not necessarily mean that it's not for functional work. Though I dabble in pottery and functional Ceramics I generally work in a representational sculptural way. However I often use the potter’s wheel as a tool to create forms to build off of.

'Self Discovery' by Wesley T. Wright.  Photo courtesy of the artist.

Your works always have an element of nature and/or animals to them.  What about these elements are you drawn to and how do you feel they are successful in their concept or message?

The conflict between man and nature is really the conflict of our time. I enjoyed the contrast of human and animal, natural and man-made objects, both in content and also visual composition.