Bill Reid, Racine
2014–15 RAM Artist Fellowship Award Recipient
Artist-in-residence at The Prairie School in Racine, WI, Bill Reid is recognized internationally as “one of the leading fabulists in a fabulousy world.” He has been making painted steel sculpture for over 30 years. An attendee of the Tulsa Welding School in Tulsa, OK, Reid has his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute, MO, and his MA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, MI. Reid’s lively and animated work has been featured on television programs, including Milwaukee Public Television’s The Arts Page, and in numerous group and solo exhibitions. His work is included in private and public collections such as the Cornell Institute of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, and the Racine Art Museum.
My process of working is elemental; using only a few hand tools and the heat of an oxyacetylene torch, I build my creatures out of thin sheets of metal and steel rods. Even as a young boy, I was drawn to the siren call of fire. Like a detective, I turn on the heat until the steel talks. After construction, the painting process brings the work to life. Painting has become an increasingly important aspect of the work. My sculptures are built around stories and word-play.
Often, the works become moving experiences with the addition of mechanical movement activated by turning wheels or hand cranks. Some beasts become working attendants who can serve you in your bathroom or kitchen and others become messengers of light. My most ambitious work to date is a highway legal vehicle I call the Bee Bomb. Formerly a Ford Escort, I fully reconstructed it into a bumblebee-suited convertible.
Like the dodo bird of long ago, I have come to represent things that do not exist. My sculptures require us to erase our perception of what is, and ask ourselves what could Bee?