Bill Reid has been part of the Prairie family for 42 years and counting. Graduating from Prairie in 1973, he’s now a valued and tenured member of our faculty and visual arts department. He also serves as Prairie’s Artist in Residence, a program uncommonly found in other independent schools.
Surrounded by a conglomeration of colorful odds and ends, scrap metal, and welding equipment, Bill can be found quietly torching together his creations piece by piece. His artwork decorates our campus halls with color and imagination and serves as inspiration for young artists. His most unique pieces are derived from simple puns including animal names and adjectives, such as “The Distanteater” and “The Artelope.” Every piece has a story that helps drive the clever word plays and design.
When asked about his time at Prairie, Bill shared:
I like the little things at Prairie. It is and always has been about the kids. I like when the little wee wogs knock on the dining room windows to see what is new. It is always fun and informative when I talk to them about what I am up to. In return, they share their opinions about my work, and I couldn’t be more appreciative.
Stepping Outside of the Classroom
Early this winter, Bill stepped out of his workspace and hosted a series of story hours with Primary School students. Bill’s creative nature came to life in his book Bunnski Goes to Albunnia that he authored and illustrated last winter. Students were treated to a fascinating story derived from a simple idea. Bill shares,
It was a crazy cold winter last year as we know. So it was partly just a thing to get me outside and also something to make up a story about my little sculptures. The ice formations down by the lake were fantastic and the late afternoon light was very beautiful. I thought a little skiing bunny, Bunnski, would be a great little beast to put out on the ice landscapes and by putting the camera really close, everything looked monumental. The story developed with Bunnski’s snowmobile and other creatures he met along the way to Albunnia, his homeland.
Bill’s work is recognized nationally and has received numerous awards. Several times over the last few years, Prairie has been honored to welcome outside organizations who have chosen to highlight his work. This February, Bill’s work will be recognized in a paperback book called Artists’ Holmes and Studios by E. Ashley Rooney. The book recognizes over 100 artists around the country. In January, Bill also received a spotlight on Milwaukee Public Televisions’, The Arts Page. Camera crews filmed segments in his home and studio on Prairie’s campus for a sneak peak into this amazing artist’s life.
And there is more to come! Over the next few months, Bill is collaborating with the Racine Art Museum (RAM) on two projects. One includes an evening exhibition showcasing historical artworks from both the RAM and The Prairie School in honor of our school’s 50th celebration. Various pieces of Bill’s work will also be on display that evening. Bill also received a fellowship from the RAM that will result in a showcase at Racine’s Wustum Museum in August with three other artists.
We couldn’t be more honored and inspired to have such an accomplished artist and friend be a part of our Prairie community.