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William Keyser

William Keyser

(b. 1936)
Born: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.

William Keyser creates wood furniture, sculptures, and ecclesiastical objects. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he earned a BS in mechanical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 1958. In 1961 the Rochester Institute of Technology gave him an MFA in furniture design, and he began teaching in the university’s School for American Crafts the following year. After he retired from teaching 35 years later, he attained an additional MFA from RIT in painting and sculpture in 2006. His work is in the collections of many businesses, churches, universities, and homes throughout Western New York.

Keyser has participated in several Craft Art shows at the Burchfield Penney. In a statement describing his work for the 1988 Burchfield Art Center Craft Art From Western New York exhibition he wrote: “I’m interested in forms that are fresh, inventive, and that make a sculptural statement about the place, the time, or the people using them. The objects must be optimistic, joyful, and must lift the spirit. They should be not only a convenience, but an adventure.” [1] He received a Sylvia L. Rosen Endowment Purchase Award for his contributions to the 2013 Art in Craft Media show. Keyser's previous work, experiences and ideas have been influential to his more recent abstract pieces, something he explains further in his 2019 artist statement: 

"All my art starts with a remnant; from my previous experiences, from a recycling center, from the floor of my studio or from the last art piece I did. My hand-maidens: debris, the detritus, the left over, the unpremeditated, the accidental, the serendipitous, the surprise, the abandoned and chance are all there for my exploitation. I use the remnant as the first mark on the blank canvas of my imagination. It is merely a trigger, a catalyst that begins a chain reaction. From there I add, subtract, enlarge, reduce, shift, combine or layer until a cohesive composition emerges that surprises me in its freshness, boldness, drama, and most importantly, rightness." [2]

His engineering background helps enable Keyser to design large-scale wooden artworks with structural rigidity, durability, and safety. Writing in American Furniture, artist/curator Jonathan Fairbanks noted that the artist “has the unusual ability to design for a specific problem and then execute the work with superb craftsmanship and originality.” [3]


[1] William Keyser, "Burchfield Statement," 07/11/1988.

[2] William Keyser, Artist Statement, Burchfield Penney Artist File, 2019.

[3] Jonathan Fairbanks, curator, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, American Furniture, 1981.