Art and Art History
Title: Professor & Department Chair
Department: Art and Art History
Building: ARC 135
- B.F.A., Kansas City Art Institute
- M.F.A., Louisiana State University
- Area: Ceramics, Design, Introduction to Art
Merrie Wright received a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and a MFA from Louisiana State University. She currently lives in east Texas and is Professor and Department Chair of Art & Art History at the University of Texas at Tyler. Wright exhibits her work nationally; recent exhibitions include: 2018 Third Coast National Biennial at K Space Contemporary, 2018 Southern Miss Ceramics National at the University of Southern Mississippi, 31st Annual Materials: Hard + Soft at the Patterson-Appleton Arts Center, Craft Texas 2016 at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Objectify at Belger Crane Yard Studios, and Tiny Mountains, Cliffs, and Switchbacks: Small Sculpture by Merrie Wright at the Tyler Museum of Art. She presented the lecture ‘Clouds: Capturing Ephemeral Imagery in Enduring Materials’ at the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts 2014 conference. Wright was awarded a six week International Residency through a partnership with NCECA and The Banff Centre in 2014, a short-term residency at Red Lodge Clay Center, during the winter of 2016-2017, and she was the host artist for a Artist-Invites-Artists group residency at the Red Lodge Clay Center in May 2019.
Summary of Current Research
Time and place have become central to my philosophical approach, process, and the resulting work. The work begins before I ever enter the studio or touch the material. It begins with place, and a thoughtful investigation of my surroundings over an extended period of time. It may take years before my observations and responses translate into form. The intense dedication to observation, paired with intellectual, mental, and technical preparation, is essential to the creation of the work.
The actual process of creating the work is equally time-intensive and meticulous. Each sculptural form is created utilizing hand-building construction methods. Surfaces are painted on by hand, with each layer of application refining the line work and precision of the surface. The resulting combinations of form and surface are a testament of my hand; I strive to mimic industrial processes and the inherent perfection of mechanically produced objects, but the hand, and my humanity, are always present.
I strive to be a ceramic purist in terms of my material choices and process. The challenge of creating forms from a variety of clays, and using slips, stains, and glazes to develop surfaces is deeply rewarding, and has led me to a depth of knowledge within my area of expertise. The resulting work has an unrivaled authenticity; form and surface are permanently fused when fired to temperature. I find that my process, as well as the material choices, heightens the tension and questions surrounding how the sculpture was made, as well as the visual and conceptual implications.
Recent works explore our relationship to place through abstracted landscapes. The geology, physical scale, and psychological power of the land, as well as light, color, and atmosphere of particular places, are referenced through material choices, forms, and surfaces. An aesthetic balance of deliberate and spontaneous elements are just one of the ways in which synchronicities and dichotomies come together within each piece to speak to the ever-shifting complexities of our relationship to place.