April 2008
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Billie Silvey
Interview with a
Sculptor
Q. When did you begin sculpting? What led you to it?

A. As a youngster, I enjoyed carving and working with my hands
whether it was helping my dad with building houses or whittling
wooden toys. I always planned to be an artist.  The summer after I
was converted to Christ, I attended a small church in Happy, Texas.
There the preacher implanted the idea in me that I had to either â
€œpreach or perish,â€� so I decided to become a minister. But that
wasn’t to be, since my natural inclinations were still in art.

While finishing a master’s degree in missions at Harding Graduate
School, I sought relief from the theology classes by taking a drawing
course at the University of Memphis. One day I stumbled into a
sculpture class that was being taught in the basement. After a few
minutes of watching the students, I was mesmerized. The art form just
looked like fun. I left that day and reported to my wife that “I donâ
€™t know what it is called exactly, but I have found what I need to be
doing . . . making art statues.� This was my first exposure to
sculpture.

It was a good choice, but I did finish writing my thesis, though my
heart was not in it. After I received my missions degree, I started over
in art back at Harding.

Q. What is your favorite medium and why?

A. During my career, I have enjoyed working with almost all sculpture
media including bronze, steel, plastics, wood and stone. However, I
gravitated more towards carving (wood and stone). Maybe it is the
result of working with my carpenter father when I was young.

Q. What is your favorite subject?

A. Much of my work has been non-objective (no object in mind, just
form) or abstract. There was a period in my earlier work where I
developed a reputation for realistic carvings and castings using the
female form. My later work dealt with “Seed,� “Birth� or
“Mother-and-Child� abstract series.

Q. Where and how did you train?

A. I received a B.A. in art from Harding University in Searcy,
Arkansas, then an MFA from the University of Mississippi. My D.A.
is from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the
teaching of the third dimension. Research and practice have been the
best teacher.

Q. Where can your work be seen?

A. My sculpture is located in over 25 states, Canada and Mexico.
Most is in private collections. I have no record of their exact locations
nor photos of most of them except for what is in my three books on
sculpture. Hurricane Katrina destroyed my records as well as most of
the sculpture
I personally owned. Several of my large steel sculptures (over 10,000
lbs.) are located on Long Island and Rochester, NY; Dallas and
Galveston, TX; Salt Lake City; West Palm Beach and San Francisco.
Arthur Williams with one of only five sculptures that escaped
damage in Katrina, a carved walnut titled "Mother with Child."
History of Sculpture
Sculpture and Religion
"Birth" by Arthur
Williams is on the
campus of the
University of
Texas Medical
Branch in
Galveston.