Wissinger only US artist in Italian art exhibit

Wissinger only US artist in Italian art exhibit

Chuck Wissinger

Charles Wissinger, associate professor of art at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, is just wrapping up his trip to Rome as part of a group of artists that paid tribute to the 500th anniversary of the world map created by Piri Reis. An Ottoman Captain and mapmaker/cartographer in the 1500s, Reis was the first to map the Mediterranean, and also included North and South America in his world map. Wissinger is the only artist from the United States to take part in this special anniversary tribute. He and 13 other ceramic artists gathered in Turkey in September to create the pieces depicting their interpretation of the first world map. They are now gathering again for the opening of

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the art exhibition in Rome, happening November 27 through December 1. The project was inspired by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) who named 2013 as the year of Piri Reis. To continue the theme, the KALE Ceramic Factory in Canakkale, Turkey invited the artists to work in their factory creating the pieces that will now be displayed. KALE is the leading ceramics manufacturer in Turkey and the 12th largest globally. Wissinger said he created three pieces in the 15-day workshop, working long hours. “Piri Reis was a contemporary of Christopher Columbus and, at one time, was actually in the Americas at the same time as Columbus,” noted Wissinger. “Piri Reis was a naval officer with a passion for cartography. At his time, people were superstitious and still thought the world was flat. If you sailed to the end of the world, you would fall off and the seas were full of terrible beasts. But he used reason when he created his maps. Reason triumphs over superstition,” said Wissinger. One of the ceramic pieces Wissinger created features two ships from the time period, each with a man falling overboard. Waiting for the men below are two sea serpents. Wissinger said it was hard keeping up with the other artists in the studio because they had been working on their creations longer. “I really had to work. The others had been there a while, but it worked out and I produced a lot of pieces. “I work differently than some other artists,” Wissinger said. “They work with technique and design and I approach my work differently. I look at creativity.” Wissinger has traveled extensively during his career and he credits his experience abroad with making his art what it is today. “Usually when I travel, I stay in a dorm or with a family. You get a very different understanding of a

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culture that way.” He was born in Pennsylvania at the top of the Appalachian Mountain chain. He earned his bachelor’s degree in art education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. After earning his master’s degree in fine arts from Ohio State, Wissinger taught in upstate New York for four years. He then went to Canada intending to stay a year and ended up working for 25 years in Red Day, Alberta. He then moved to Texas, where he spent three years teaching at University of Texas-Pan American. “When I got to Texas, it was 105 degrees, but I stayed anyway,” he said. He came to Texas A&M-Kingsville in 2003 after coming to campus to do some consulting for then-art department chair Santa Barraza. “I feel incredibly honored that throughout my life, I have worked with very diverse groups of people, whether it was through teaching or traveling,” he said. “I find that very fascinating.”