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George Wardlaw in studio
“The sea communicates its message of spiritual awareness in a language whose comprehension seems to transcend the differences of culture and belief that ordinarily divide the diverse peoples of the earth. It is the phenomenon of this common response that I find very compelling.”
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In this oral history, which was conducted at the artist’s Amherst, MA studio and home in December 2015, George Wardlaw discusses:

  • His art education—the Memphis Academy of Art and University of Mississippi—and influential teachers (Ben Bishop, Jack Tworkov, and David Smith)
  • His career as a silversmith before he turned to the fine arts (painting and sculpture)
  • His long-held interest in art and spirituality and what he sees as the difference between the spirit and spirituality in art
  • His conversion to Judaism after growing up Southern Baptist
  • Growing up in the segregated south before World War II
  • His monumental commission, “Interior Garden,” for the Johnson Wax Corporation
  • His concept of “energized art”
  • The influence of Matisse on his work
  • His work and working process, setting a painting in motion, craft
  • How he’s working, now that he has macular degeneration
  • His advice for young artists

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“[There] are two kinds of disturbances of the eyes, stemming from two sources – when they have been transferred from light to darkness and when they have been transferred from darkness to light.”
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