Whether it’s teaching art enrichment and creative thinking classes out of her Moorhead studio or serving on the board of the Rourke Art Gallery + Museum, Emily Williams-Wheeler has built an art career that is defined by whimsical creations and an enthusiastic smile.
Her joy and sense of exploration in her art is demonstrated in the widely diverse mediums she explores: encaustic, acrylics, and her newest adventures in pottery.
With her creativity being drawn in so many different directions, we asked Emily how she keeps both her colors and her smile bright. Here is a Q&A with Wheeler, who is also a TAp Partner Artist.
Q: What artist/writer/musician(s) inspire you?
A: Paul Simon. He is one of my favorite musicians. I love the lyrics to “You Can Call Me Al.” I like most of his work, and especially love Graceland. But what I really love is his writing. His poetry really speaks to me.
Richard Diebenkorn. The way his compositions come across. He’s an abstract artist with an incredible use of color and mark making. I love Friedensreich Hundertwasser for his color and form in architecture. I am a total colorist. I’m doing the color wheel for my students, which I do every year. They have to learn to mix paints, which is very big for me. They have to learn to make flesh tones, in their own color, which is very tricky. Lots of paint mixing!
Q: Are there local artists that inspire you?
A:Oh! I think a lot of people already know this, but I’ve been wholly inspired by Catie Miller and her pottery. She has taken me under her wing, and been my mentor in my new adventure, and I’m just so inspired by her; her generosity and her work. Also, Susan Morrissey. I absolutely adore her work. She does everything. She paints, she draws, she sculpts, she can do anything. She is amazing!
Q: Is there anything you wish people knew about your art?
A: I would like to educate people on how much time goes into creating an original piece of art. I think people wonder why things cost so much,like “Why do I need to pay this much when I can go to Walmart?” I think if people really understood the effort it takes to get from A to Z on a piece of art, in addition to the business and overhead required beyond the time and the materials it takes to create, it would really make a difference. I’d love people to know that.
Q: What do you do to energize yourself when you’re having a slow day?
A: I listen to podcasts all the time; I am drawn to cold-case podcasts. The one that got me hooked pre-Covid was Up and Vanished. They actually helped solve that one. I also love audiobooks while painting. Those are usually British or Scandinavian mysteries. I think sometimes, however, doing that doesn’t give me energy. So then I pull out my music playlist and I really get energized! I need to do that more. I like classic rock, so I do a lot of Pink Floyd or ELO (Electric Light Orchestra), or going way back to the Beatles.
More on Emily
View her work through a variety of online avenues:
About the Author
TAP partner and community content contributor Brandi Malarkey is a multi-disciplinary artist, writer, administrator, and occasional hot mess. She is a collector of dead bugs and good books, and a believer that ordinary miracles and small kindnesses have the power to change the world. Learn more about Brandi on her website: www.itsallmalarkey.com.