WWU exhibit to pay tribute to artist William A. Berry

William A. Berry was an artist,
illustrator, photographer, designer and author.
He also was professor emeritus
of art and past chair of the art department at the University of Missouri.
Berry died last year, and now William Woods University will pay tribute
to him with an exhibit of his work in Mildred M. Cox Gallery of the
Gladys Woods Kemper Center for the Arts Oct. 25 – Nov. 20. The Cox Gallery is
open weekdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Titled “A Life Drawing: The Art of
William A. Berry, 1933-2010,” the exhibit constitutes the largest display of
Berry’s work and spans the greatest period of time. Many of the works are
privately owned and seldom available to the public; some have never before been
Valerie Wedel, assistant professor
of art at Missouri Valley College, Marshall, Mo., has curated this show in
conjunction with Jane Mudd, assistant professor of art at William Woods
University. Mudd and two other WWU art professors, Paul Clervi and Terry Martin,
studied with Berry while they were students at the University of Missouri.
Wedel has assembled more than 150
of Berry’s works from 1950 to 2008, and she will speak about the exhibit at 3
p.m. Nov. 11 in WWU’s library auditorium, and a reception will follow in the
gallery from 4 to 7 p.m.
Known for his pencil
figure illustrations and still lifes, Berry earned his Bachelor of Fine
Arts degree from the University of Texas and his Master of Fine Arts degree
from the University of Southern California.
In addition to teaching at the
University of Missouri, he held academic positions at Boston University,
Wesleyan University in Connecticut, the Lacoste School of the Arts in France,
and the University of Texas.
Berry joined the University of Missouri faculty in 1978. In 1989, Berry was
the recipient of William H. Byler Distinguished Professor Award for outstanding
abilities, performance, and character at the University of Missouri. In
1991, he was named Curators’ Professor, the highest honor to be bestowed on a
faculty member at the University of Missouri, and only the 11th such
award in its 23-year history.
His work has been shown in more
than 500 national juried exhibitions and has been awarded prizes in at least
120 juried exhibitions.
Berry was the author of “Drawing the
Human Form: Methods, Sources, Concepts,” a widely used textbook on
figure illustration. He also worked as an illustrator for Newsweek, The
Reporter, Opera News and Esquire.
He was a director, cinematographer and editor who also
took still pictures much like he was making a feature narrative film. He began
with extensive research on locations and situations that reflected the impact
of human occupation on earth and the debris left behind. A constant traveler, he used
his research to find the site or just happened upon it.
Berry created several bodies of work exploring
ethnographic vistas, such as airplane graveyards in the Mohave Desert; cemeteries
in Peru; an active volcanic beach in Italy; and motor home graveyards in
Jacumba, Calif.
His subjects also included sexy champagne fights at Nikki
beach in St. Tropez; massive land excavations in rural China; the squatter
civilization in slab city; and Salvation Mountain in the Salton Sea.
Berry’s work represents iconic ideas about the ideal
place, the perfect moment, linking them to the history of photography while
using digital technology as a new way of representation and as a means of
transforming a physical and psychological experience of a place.
The exhibit at
William Woods consists
of many drawings from life: figure studies, portraits and self portraits. There
are also renderings of still life and architectural motifs—in