Master Sculptor
JOHN WADDELL 
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Narrative Biography


 

My interest has always been in other human beings, particularly their beings. Their essences as reflected in thier physical bodies, the bodies that change from moment to moment are never the same.  I have been fascinated to the point of selfless immersion in our activities as humans. Conversely I have detested our tendency to be easily hypnotized by repetitive motions, slogans and images which are not changing and therefore do not move with the natural flow of life.  I was always an observer, a bystander, even though through my work I became an activist.  It seems I was always aware of others.  As a child I was immersed in observation to the point of obsessivenes.  Hardly ever aware of class lessons, I instantly observed the teachers and the other children.  Because of this I failed first grade and fourth grade.  Somewhere early on before school, I realized that I was a sculptor, or at least that is what I told people when they asked me "What do you want to do when you grow up." I do not know where I learned the word sculptor.

Early I started in art school, age 7.  I was impatient with my lack of coordination, always knowing that I had it within me to do beautiful drawings and sculptures.

At 13, I apprenticed myself to a painter (Katherine Lord), cleaning the studio and later at the age of 16 teaching for her in exchange for lessons, particularly in figure drawing and painting.

At 18 I won a scholarship to The Art Institute of Chicago, and as a corillary I was allowed to take courses at the University of Chicago.  I took many courses under outstanding professors particularly in the field of Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, and Art History. As always I was looking, looking and observing. After 6 years at the Art Institute.  I taught for 12 years first for 5 years at a college for teachers where I continued my study of all age levels with an emphasis on the exceptional, the gifted, the emotionally disturbed. the physically and mentally differentiated. Then 2 years at the Institute of Design. Finally 4 years at Arizona State University.

All during the time of teaching I was working on my painting and sculpture knowing that at the age of 40 I would stop teaching and start my painting and sculpture full time.

At the time that I stopped teaching I was making very disturbing Social Signifigance paintings describing the ills of the world.  In retrospect I see these paintings as, besides being the reflection of a natural growth process, a reflection of my most disturbing early adulthood.   This period was complicated by army service, a devastating divorce from a brilliant woman, Elisabeth Owen, with whom I had three boys, and the loss of a child early in my second marriage, a marraige which has lasted 53 years.