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Art People: William Brayton / sculptor

  • Hampshire College professor and visual artist Bill Brayton of Conway gives a walkthrough of his artistic process and some of his work, some of which he displays in the woods on his property.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Hampshire College professor and visual artist Bill Brayton of Conway gives a walkthrough of his artistic process and some of his work, some of which he displays in the woods on his property.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hampshire College professor and visual artist Bill Brayton of Conway gives a walkthrough of his artistic process and some of his work, some of which he displays in the woods on his property.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Hampshire College professor and visual artist Bill Brayton of Conway gives a walkthrough of his artistic process and some of his work, some of which he displays in the woods on his property.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hampshire College professor and visual artist Bill Brayton of Conway gives a walkthrough of his artistic process and some of his work, some of which he displays in the woods on his property.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Hampshire College professor and visual artist Bill Brayton of Conway gives a walkthrough of his artistic process and some of his work, some of which he displays in the woods on his property.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hampshire College professor and visual artist Bill Brayton of Conway gives a walkthrough of his artistic process and some of his work, some of which he displays in the woods on his property.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Hampshire College professor and visual artist Bill Brayton of Conway gives a walkthrough of his artistic process and some of his work, some of which he displays in the woods on his property.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hampshire College professor and visual artist Bill Brayton of Conway gives a walkthrough of his artistic process and some of his work, some of which he displays in the woods on his property.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Hampshire College professor and visual artist Bill Brayton of Conway gives a walkthrough of his artistic process and some of his work, some of which he displays in the woods on his property.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hampshire College professor and visual artist Bill Brayton of Conway gives a walkthrough of his artistic process and some of his work, some of which he displays in the woods on his property.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Hampshire College professor and visual artist Bill Brayton of Conway gives a walkthrough of his artistic process and some of his work, some of which he displays in the woods on his property.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hampshire College professor and visual artist Bill Brayton of Conway gives a walkthrough of his artistic process and some of his work, some of which he displays in the woods on his property.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Hampshire College professor and visual artist Bill Brayton of Conway gives a walkthrough of his artistic process and some of his work, some of which he displays in the woods on his property.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hampshire College professor and visual artist Bill Brayton of Conway gives a walkthrough of his artistic process and some of his work, some of which he displays in the woods on his property.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • Hampshire College professor and visual artist Bill Brayton of Conway gives a walkthrough of his artistic process and some of his work, some of which he displays in the woods on his property.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • Hampshire College professor and visual artist Bill Brayton of Conway gives a walkthrough of his artistic process and some of his work, some of which he displays in the woods on his property.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • Hampshire College professor and visual artist Bill Brayton of Conway gives a walkthrough of his artistic process and some of his work, some of which he displays in the woods on his property.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • Hampshire College professor and visual artist Bill Brayton of Conway gives a walkthrough of his artistic process and some of his work, some of which he displays in the woods on his property.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • Hampshire College professor and visual artist Bill Brayton of Conway gives a walkthrough of his artistic process and some of his work, some of which he displays in the woods on his property.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • Hampshire College professor and visual artist Bill Brayton of Conway gives a walkthrough of his artistic process and some of his work, some of which he displays in the woods on his property.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

At William Brayton’s Conway home, the woods and fields are alive with more than trees and grass. Dotting the landscape are free-form, three-dimensional sculptures in which Brayton blends wood, metal, aluminum and specialized concrete to create abstract testimonies to the things that interest him — from nature to architecture to ship-building to human emotion.

If that sounds a bit highfalutin, there’s a simpler way of describing the appeal of Brayton’s sculptures: They’re fun to look at.

“Humor is definitely part of my work,” says Brayton, an art professor at Hampshire College in Amherst and the founder of the school’s sculpture program. “I enjoy a sense of playfulness in art. ... I like to make reference to different things I’ve seen or experienced.”

Case in point: “The Letter,” a sculpture that sits on a wide lawn in front of Brayton’s house, includes what at first glance might appear to be a large, three-pronged spatula. Actually, Brayton says, it’s his take on a dinosaur footprint — his nod to “Nash Dinoland,” the South Hadley attraction that includes exhibits and models of dinosaurs and their footprints.

His sculptures begin with a latticework of shaped metal: thin bars that curve and swoop in a variety of shapes, from ellipses to ovals to circles. He molds those bars in a hand-cranked rolling press. Many of the metal frameworks include additional bolstering from pieces of white oak, which he bends with a steamer.

To this overall structure he adds various smaller objects, liking the interaction of spheres, discs, cubes, stars and a wealth of abstract shapes. Variety is the watchword. Brayton affixes objects fashioned from wood, aluminum, acrylic and something he calls “Braytoncrete” — a malleable concrete mix he devised that blends cement, clay, vermiculite and other ingredients.

The effect is to create what he calls “an interesting dialogue” between the elements. In work such as “Barrows,” a semi-circular design that stands outside his home, viewers might see glimpses of outer space, with planets and stars scattered across the heavens, or a commentary on the vast variety of the natural world. “I like the idea of people finding different interpretations of what I do,” he said.

Brayton has worked in digital design and is an avid drawer, sometimes taking ideas for his sculpture from those other exercises. He often builds sculptural elements over a long period, developing ideas for how to put them together as he stockpiles the objects. Since transporting larger pieces for installations involves first disassembling them, Brayton also has the added challenge of putting all the pieces back together.

“It can be a puzzle,” he said. “It’s like another project by itself.”

— Steve Pfarrer

Brayton’s sculpture “Encounter 2” is on view outside the Lord Jeffery Inn through Nov. 30 as part of “Amherst Biennial e_SSRq12.”

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