Visions West Galleries

Willem Volkersz | Biography

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Media Description: Neon, Acrylic, Found Objects

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Artist Statement

"High art and low culture need each other to renew their vitality--
without each to enhance the other, both would full flat."
Donald Kuspit, American Ceramics, Jan/Feb 1999

I have an immigrant's fascination with America. After my family emigrated to
Seattle from Holland when I was 14, I began driving throughout the West, camera in
hand, documenting an unfamiliar yet vibrant culture made up of billboards, vernacular
architecture, and decorated yards. Over time, I became increasingly fascinated with
popular culture: larger-than-life advertising figures, neon signs, postcards, and travel
souvenirs. Ultimately (after art and architecture studies at the University of Washington
and graduate school at Mills College), these experiences became sources for my

Although my training was primarily in the area of painting, I began adding found
objects to my work while in graduate school. In the late 1960's and early 1970's, I also
added neon and handcrafted objects and the work became narrative and often
autobiographical. Many of the sculptures were made in response to personal experiences
(like a major flood that inundated our house and studios in the late 1970') and eventually
I began to look back on my boyhood and our emigration to the US. The sculptures about
growing up during World War II are a prime example of the personal sources for much of
my work.

In recent years, I have worked on several different series. Domestic Neon
includes sculptures about my travels, experiences as a husband and father and life in the
West (some are about the rapid urbanization of our region). When I Was A Boy is a series
about growing up during World War II and the many young victims from my elementary
school who died during the Holocaust. The most recent work, Sort Stories, emerged
largely as an antidote to the sad and serious nature of the theme of war.


[ 34 West Main Street, Bozeman, MT 59715 ]
[ 108 South Main Street, Livingston, MT 59047 ]
[ 1715 Wazee Street, Denver, CO 80202 ]
[ 406-522-9946 ]
[ 406-222-0337 ]
[ 303.292.0909 ]

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