Current Exhibitions

Current Exhibitions

Open: May 13
Close: June 6

Elise McWilliams

"Wildlife"

Artist Bio

Elise Kay (Megremis) McWilliams was born in Bloomington, Indiana, and learned to draw and craft at a very young age. She
was drawing and writing at 3, crocheting and embroidering at 4-5 years old, and had an excellent Elementary Art Teacher Marty
Bellissis, who taught color theory to Elise. In 4th grade, Elise received her first painting set from her aunt Thea Georgia, and painting lessons from Thea, and Elise’s uncle Theo Pete. Her middle school Art teachers were Virginia Vernon and Gil Clark, who taught puppet making, felting, jewelry making, and ceramics. She became even more interested in art while in high school, studying with Gilbert Clark, Janis Smith and Fred Brandenburger, who was one of Alma Eikerman’s students, who also mentored Susan Ewing. Elise, the young artist, wanting more training, decided to enroll at Miami University, and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in Jewelry/Metals (and 1 course shy of Painting and half of an Art Education degree as well). She studied with Miriam Karp, Crossan Curry, Susan Ewing, Lynn Dietrich and Suzanne Fisher. After graduation, being young and undecided about her goals as an artist, she then became a bench jeweler at Krombholz Jewelers in Cincinnati, and then Rogers Jewelers in Middletown. She learned the art of stone setting, engraving, chain repair and ring sizing for about 2 years. She then went to Purdue University for a Masters of Art in Jewelry/Metals, where she studied with Robin Kraft, Kathryn Reeves. She was thrown into teaching, and she taught Beginning Drawing and 3D design at Purdue that year and ended up loving it. She decided that she wanted to teach University level art, and in order to become a professor she needed a Masters of Fine Arts, so she left Purdue after only one year, and went to Kent State University. They have an amazing Crafts program, with a tradition of Bruce Metcalf, and her professor, Kathleen Browne. She graduated from there with an MFA in Jewelry/Metals/Enameling, and studied with Kathleen as well as Janice Lessmann-Moss, Kirk Mangus, Harriet Estel Berman and Joe Wood, and studied among many other amazing artists such as Mary Pearse, Helen Elliott and Sofia Calderwood. She taught Beginning Jewelry/Metals at Kent State, and continued to find love in teaching as well as making art. Her first son was born that year, and she returned to Oxford, having finished her graduate degree. She took a year off to be with him, but then started teaching adjunct at Miami University, and the following year was hired as a full-time visiting assistant professor, teaching 2D, and 3D design and Senior Capstone of professionalism in the arts. She decided to pursue her Ohio Visual Arts teaching license, as she wanted more full-time employment with benefits and retirement, and so she went back to school at Miami University, and finished her degree, student teaching with Judy Slinker from Kramer Elementary and Pat Young, from Lakota West. Her Art Education professors were Ralph Raunft, Jerry Morris, Mary Sue Johns, and Jean Langan.

She received her first position at Preble-Shawnee HS and Jr. HS, and worked with Mike Cottingim, an amazing mentor and good friend to her. Her job was cut with many others, and she was able to then work at Yellow Springs HS and McKinney MS, with the possibility of moving there. The position was lacking funding, and so she was able to move swiftly into a position at Hollingsworth East Elementary School, in Eaton, teaching K-2 Art there for 7 years, and working with amazing people such as Sarah Bomholt, Linda Cameron, Belinda Moeller, Tricia McGinnis, and many others. She had applied for many years to Talawanda, and finally was able to get a position at THS, working alongside her husband, Jim McWilliams, Mike Marston, Danielle Mann and Marc Tincher, Stephanie and Matt Aerni, Julietta Raynold, and many others. She was able to do 2 murals with the students while at the High School, and both are still up: Lane Public Library Oxford branch Teen Zone Owl Mural, and THS main hallway mural designed by Afferton Raynold. She decided to go to Kramer, to be with her younger son while he was there, and met and worked with amazing colleagues such as Amy Cheatham, Maureen Kelly, Mary Johnson, Barbara Hamilton, and many others. Once he left, she wanted a change, and is now teaching K-2 Art again at Lakota School district, at Hopewell ECS and Liberty ECS.

She has exhibited in national, international shows, had artwork in a Davis Beginning Sculpture Textbook, Metalsmith Magazine’s Exhibition in Print, Art exhibited at the Olympics and Graceland, Artist-in-Residencies in Petrified Forest National Park, Hot Springs National Park, Azule, and enters numerous Mail Art shows around the world. She has never stopped creating Art for more than a few weeks since she was 3-4 years old, in her entire life, and she is now 51 years old. Art is life.

Artist Statement

I create artwork with characters in some sort of landscape, which are in the process of having some emotions, using archetypes and icons, to show how we are all similar, and how everybody plays the fool sometimes. My work has always been figurative and cathartic, coming from the perspective as a Greek woman, focusing on relationships and
their quirks, as I’m very family-oriented, and love laughter and fun. These pieces are sometimes grieving and sad, sometimes humorous and whimsical, as being able to poke fun at ourselves is literally one of our only saving graces. After all, laughter is the best medicine. As Kurt Vonnegut once said, “Laughter was a great relief day after day, and it
would have been embarrassing to cry day after day. I’ve said that it-I prefer laughter to crying, because there’s less cleaning up to do afterward. Also, you can shut it down faster.”

I use different materials to create different types of pieces, whether in felt, clay, metal or paintings, whichever media I’ve chosen is purposeful, and helps to communicate the idea of the piece and the emotion expressed by the character.

 

Mike Wright

"A Few Of My Favorite Things"

Artist Bio

I have always been fascinated by nature, especially animals. My first job was Interpretive Naturalist at Hueston Woods State Park, and in one way or another I managed to keep my hand in the world of natural history throughout my subsequent career.

I have no formal training in art, but I have a passion for illustrating animals as realistically as possible (my early influences were Glen Loates and Robert Bateman). During my time in the Biology Department at Miami University, I produced illustrations for several publications, most recently “Reptiles of Ohio” (2021).

I’ve only recently taken up 3-dimensional art. The ready availability and ease of firing polymer clay inspired me to make the attempt. I hope at some point in the future to sculpt select plants (mostly wildflowers).

Artist Statement

I attended Summer Fair at Coney Island in Cincinnati several years ago. While there I stumbled across an artist who sculpted figurines of frogs and lizards that were quite whimsical. She told me they were made of a polymer clay called ‘Sculpey,’ which had the advantage of hardening in a home oven. I was intrigued because in high school I had attempted sculpture in the only art class I’ve ever taken, but that “regular” clay needed to be fired at high temperature in a kiln: not easy to come by in Chillicothe Ohio. However, because polymer clay can be baked in a home oven, I decided to try sculpting again. My first attempts were quite crude, but over time I began to learn what I could and could not do with the clay and began to focus more and more on producing figures with a great deal of realistic detail.

I’ve always been drawn to wild animals, so perhaps it was inevitable that I began to sculpt them first, particularly native Ohio species. As I gained more experience I discovered that years of observing animals allowed me not only to recognize when my sculptures were not accurate but also what I needed to do to make them so. However, I do rely a great deal on images from the web to discern details about the particular species I’m working on.

All of the animals I’ve sculpted have special meaning for me. For instance, I sculpted a flying squirrel early on because when I was eleven I was given two orphan squirrels when a tree company discovered them in a sycamore they had cut down in my neighborhood. These squirrels were part of my life for the next ten years, often running loose in the house and launching off the curtains, landing on anyone who happened to walk by. They also spent hours sleeping in my shirt pocket.

At some point I began to sculpt figures from children’s literature and, later, cartoon characters. I’ve been an avid reader from an early age: one of my first (and current) favorite books was “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak so, not surprisingly, Max and the wild things were the first whimsical figures I sculpted. Now that I’m retired from the Biology Department at Miami University I hope to spend more time in my studio. I maintain a running list of animals and characters from literature that I would like to produce in the future, always with the goal of making them as life-like as possible.

 

Check out the Upcoming Exhibitions.