Oral history interview with William Keyser, Jr., 2003 April 25-May 2
Keyser, William A. (William Alphonse), 1936-
Cooke, Edward S., 1954-
Carnegie Institute of Technology
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America
Rochester Institute of Technology
Place of publication, production, or execution:
Transcript: 107 pages.
Originally recorded on 6 sound discs. Reformated in 2010 as 10 digital wav files. Duration is 5 hr., 55 min.
Access Note / Rights:
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.
An interview of William Kesyer Jr. conducted 2003 April 25 and May 2, by Edward S. Cooke Jr., for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, in Victor, N.Y.
Keyser describes his childhood, including his early interest in construction through his father's home wood shop and the Soap Box Derbies of the 1950s; his participation in the Fisher Body Division automobile design competition and science fairs in high school; studying engineering and sculpture at Carnegie Mellon University; working at Hoover Vacuum Cleaner Company; his studies at Kent State University and the School of American Craftsmen at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT); his teaching positions at RIT and Ohio University; the curriculum he established at RIT and the goals and structure of the woodworking program; he discusses moving away from teaching in the 1990s; the advantages and disadvantages of commissions; his liturgical and speculative work; the influence of furniture and art movements on his furniture; the importance of his family and his Catholic faith; the benefits of university involvement and summer arts programs; his travels in New England and Scandinavia; being well received as a regional artist; the importance of publications in furniture and art; four objects that were terminal points in his career; and the future of woodworking. He also recalls Mel Someroski, Tage Frid, Michael Harms, Jere Osgood, Wendell Castle, James Krenov, Craig McArt, Doug Sigler, Daniel Jackson, Robert Johnston, Lamar White, and others.
Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with William Keyser, Jr., 2003 April 25-May 2. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Transcript available on line.
Funding for this interview was provided by the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America. Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
William Keyser, Jr. (1936- ) is a woodworker from Victor, N.Y. Edward S. Cooke, Jr. is a professor.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001