Renowned Sculptor John Risley Dies

Renowned Sculptor John Risley DiesJohn H. Risley, professor of art emeritus, died Feb. 19 in Colchester, Conn. Born in 1919 in Waterville, Maine, Professor Risley modestly referred to himself as a Yankee tinker. He was, of course, much more: an artist who received national prizes and more than two dozen regional prizes for sculptural work that graced collections ranging from IBM’s to those of private individuals. During his 33 years at Wesleyan, he participated in dozens of exhibitions throughout the United States. “Risley’s art,” wrote William Ward, professor of theater and design emeritus, “represents a continual seeking, exploring and analyzing of nature.” He produced works of “humanity and humor, in which serious messages are revealed in the guise of comical men-atarms, ingenious mechanical marvels, nonfunctional machines and wondrous boxes.” Risley joined the faculty in 1954, having obtained degrees from Amherst College, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Cranbrook Academy of Arts. Initially on the staff of Wesleyan’s new Humanities Workshop, he devoted most of his teaching throughout his career to sculpture and the fundamentals of design. He and colleagues began discussions in 1959 that led to the creation of the Center for the Arts. He retired in 1987. Professor Risley was married to the late Mary Kring Risley, a noted ceramist and adjunct associate professor of art at Wesleyan. He is survived by two children, Jack and Kathryn, both artists.


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