William Daley

Crossed Vessica 1

WILLIAM DALEY: STUDIO COMPONENTS opens a few windows into the joy, spirit, and creative process of an artist – all of which might sound cliché if Daley’s works were not such powerful and focused products of a seven decade-long pursuit. Perspectives on his process –videos, styrofoam molds, hand tools and drawings—complement his monumental works and illuminate his inventive mind and sustained vision. Daley, a 1950 graduate of MassArt, has received many accolades, honorary doctorates, and has work in important museums and international collections; nevertheless he keeps trudging into the basement to wrestle with clay and challenge himself. Born in 1925 in Hastings-on-Hudson, he started drawing in New York City museums as a teenager, and is as active a draughtsman as he is a sculptor; on his studio wall myriad preparatory sketches lay buried under paint, each one cumulative in a life-long search. His wife Catherine Stennes Daley, also MassArt ‘50 and a longtime collaborator, notes that some evenings she still has to yell at him to leave the basement and call a day’s work to an end.

Where is Daley’s studio in the universe? It is a place of action, of reinvention, of self-determination, of many failures and steadily won triumphs. To explain his indefatigable motivation, he likes to quote from the essay “How to Make Our Ideas Clear” by Charles S. Peirce (1839-1914), Boston’s polymath logician. Daley is engaged in Peirce’s cyclical steps of trust, belief, and active thought. Daley argues that in learning, “we can’t hear the questions until they come through our hands.” Pliant and disobedient clay is the place where he builds his thoughts into “whacked geometries” that confirm his search as much as they undergird his belief. In the spring of 2014, inspired by The Cloud of Unknowing, an anonymous 14th-century Christian ode to contemplation, Bill told me he found a correspondence between the author’s mysticism and his daily work: “When she wrote God, I said art, and when she wrote pray, I said practice.” In these pots, pragmatism and spirituality overlap.

-- Ezra Shales, Associate Professor of Art History


Celebrating William Daley ‘50

Join us for a homecoming celebration to honor Bill’s seven-decade career shaping art and design education.

August 2 – October 25, 2014
William Daley: Studio Components
President’s Gallery, Tower, 11th floor
MassArt, 621 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA

Wednesday, September 17, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Artists’ Talk and Presentation of The Society of Arts and Crafts Medal of Excellence in Craft
MassArt Tower Auditorium, 621 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA  02115

Friday, September 19, 5:00-7:00 p.m.
Artist’s Reception and Book Signing
Society of Arts and Crafts, 175 Newbury Street, Boston
617-266-1810 / exhibitiongallery@societyofcrafts.org
621 Huntington Avenue / Boston, MA 02115 / (617) 879-7020