Horse Whisperer: Bill Sanders

Horse  Whisperer: Bill Sanders

To make one of his ceramic horses, Bill Sanders creates each piece on the wheel and then assembles them much like a tailor does a suit. “I make them that way mostly because I love to throw,” says Sanders, who first walked into a ceramics lab while attending high school in the Philippines. Born in Shanghai and raised in countries throughout Asia, Sanders came to Colorado for boarding school, and, stunned by its natural beauty and “elbowroom,” he vowed to return one day. That day came after starting and selling a lumber company in Hawaii, where he honed his craft under ceramic artists May Chee and Yukio Ozaki. He now makes his horses, marked by a brilliant blue glaze inspired by adobe houses in New Mexico, in Steamboat Springs and shows them at Denver’s Plinth Gallery. “My work is unique, because my upbringing was unique,” says Sanders. “I wanted the feeling of an Asian horse, but with a Western twist. If I can bridge Oriental and Occidental, I think I’ve succeeded.”

LX: Work approach:

BS: I love the outdoors. In the winter, I ski for a couple of hours and then disappear into the studio. In the summers, I usually spend one day hiking and the next in the studio.

LX: How does steamboat springs compare to hawaii:

BS: Hawaii, with its Asian influences, has a huge clay culture. To the Japanese, pottery is at least the second highest art form. In China, the craft is millenniums old. But tradition can get in the way. Here, there are no rules.

LX: Dream collaboration:

BS: I desire to do a joint show with John Nieto. I envision one of his paintings on the wall with a pair of my horses on a table in front. Someone would walk in and say, “I have to have the whole grouping.”

LX: Artist you find most engaging:

BS: I yearn to someday form clay as well as Maynard Dixon painted.

LX: I’m reading…

BS: Color: A Natural History of the Palette. Victoria Finlay goes around the world and describes where Prussian blues are mined and Naples yellow is from. It’s mesmerizing!



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