I met Will while he was receiving his MFA from UNC Chapel Hill back in 2012. He was one of the few grad students who would give us lowly BFAs the time of day – I’d catch him on my way to get a burrito from Cosmic Cantina, and he’d tell me about his critique or what he was working on. This genuine desire to connect is certainly reflected in his art practice today. Originally from Chicago, Will is currently based in Durham, NC.
Command Zine interviewed Will about his series called Colored Plush, where he makes large fleece replicas of small paintings.
Come Hither, Polyester Fleece 80″ x 60″
AB: Can you talk about your subject matter for the colored plush series, and how this relates to your decision to use polyester fleece as a substrate, rather than stretched canvas?
WPT: Every image in the Colored Plush series is derived from a different level of self-reflection. Even when the image does not include some representation or abstraction of my own body, I always integrate an element that is intended to be a consideration of my relationship to the subject represented. The polyester fleece works double as conceptual artworks and as cozy blankets. Because I can wrap my own body in them, and for many of them I have done just that, I enjoy the idea of exploring vulnerability via objects that can also provide comfort.
AB: Yeah!! I love that the body is implicit both within the subject matter and the blanket. You’re able to take advantage of the history of the material in a way that cannot be done with a “neutral” primed canvas. Are you painting directly on the blankets or are they digital transfers? Paint on fleece seems like it’d be anything but cozy to cuddle up with.
Breakfast Break, Polyester Fleece 80″ x 60″
Notes from a Treacherous Climb, Acrylic on canvas, each 5″ x 7″
Eatin’, Polyester Fleece, 80″ x 60″
Can I Kick it? Polyester Fleece, 80″ x 60″ / Site: Near the corner of Martin Luther King Blvd. and Estes Dr. in Chapel Hill, NC
AB: So did anyone actually call you up to kick it?
WPT: A few people did call or exchange lengthy text correspondences with me. The most interesting call I received was from a woman who lives in Chapel Hill and was hosting her sister from Virginia. They left a voice message inquiring about what I wanted to “kick around.” Eventually we agreed to meet at the Ackland Museum to talk more about the project; to kick it. We met and soon discovered that we had a mutual friend. The spouse of one of my professors from the MFA program was their cousin, whom they hadn’t spoken to in over a decade. I called the professor, so they could reunite. The connection between them may have fizzled, but I learned later that our meeting allowed another estranged cousin of theirs to reconnect.
AB: Wow! And making connections is what it’s all about, right?