Sketchbooks provide a glimpse of ceramic artist’s life

Paul Rankin Collection in memory of Lili Wildenhain

Follow RITNEWS on Twitter

A. Sue Weisler

The Frans Wildenhain Ceramic Exhibition is on display at RIT Aug. 20-Oct. 2.

Sketchbooks are a form of visual note-taking of the surrounding world. They help to see inside the mind of the artist and provide a timeline to the artwork created. The Rochester Institute of Technology is in possession of four of Frans Wildenhain’s sketchbooks that will appear Aug. 20-Oct. 2 in the Bevier Gallery and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf’s Dyer Arts Center in the Frans Wildenhain Ceramic Exhibition at RIT.

Paul Rankin donated the sketchbooks in memory of his mother, Lili Wildenhain, Frans Wildenhain’s third wife, along with other pieces such as two small paintings, slides and other miscellaneous possessions for the upcoming exhibition to the RIT Archives. Frans Wildenhain helped launch the School for the American Craftsmen at RIT and was a professor for two decades before retiring.

Sketchbooks cover Wildenhain’s work in the 1970s—the last decade of Wildenhain’s life. Notes and drawings are scribbled in both English and German. The sketchbooks follow Wildenhain’s journey through Mexico, Florida and different parts of Europe.

“Wildenhain has his own way of viewing different things surrounding him,” says Becky Simmons, RIT’s archivist. “He was really an artist and he was truly his own.”

For more information about the exhibition, contact Bruce Austin at 585-475-2879 or go to