Early Life and Education
Walter “Wally” Hyleck was born in 1942 in Beloit, Wisconsin, but grew up in Minnesota. He studied art and art history as an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota and attended graduate school at Tulane University.
Early Interest in Ceramics
Hyleck pinpoints his interest in ceramics as beginning when he was in high school, but says he was truly inspired to begin pursuing the art form by Glen C. Nelson, head of ceramics at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. He explored a few other artistic interests, including architecture, painting, and printmaking before deciding on ceramics because of the calm nature of Professor Nelson and those he worked with.
Career in Education
Hyleck became a professor of ceramics at Berea College in 1967. In 1984, he became the Morris B. Belknap Chair of Fine Arts at Berea. He was also an active National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) member. He retired from teaching at Berea College in 2008. He was, and still continues to be, an influential part in the history of the arts and crafts at Berea.
Ceramics Apprenticeship Program
In 1970, Hyleck founded the Berea College Ceramic Apprenticeship Program. The program was designed to revitalize Berea’s craft image, train students in all aspects of ceramics, and produce a line of functional pottery to be marketed and sold through Berea College’s Student Craft Industries. It also served to introduce numerous students to the artistic value and opportunities of ceramics both as artistic expression and as a possible career. The designs are developed by the current program director and resident potter who assign them for production to the apprentices at their varying stages of ability. The Berea College Ceramic Apprenticeship Program continues to teach students and produce pottery for Student Craft Industries to this day.
Walter Hyleck has participated in over 250 exhibitions. He has shown work at the Smithsonian Institute in DC, The Museum of Arts and Design in NYC, and more. The following is a short list of Hyleck’s selected exhibitions.
Hyleck also has permanent collections at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, CA; The Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC; and the University of Indianapolis.