The Merwin and Wakeley Galleries 
Ames School of Art


Spring & Fall Hours

Monday-Friday 12-4pm
Tuesday evening 7-9pm
Saturday & Sunday 1-4pm


Ames School of Art
Illinois Wesleyan University
6 Ames Plaza West
Bloomington, Illinois 61702-2900

 Artist Del Harrow will lecture October 4th at 6PM in RM 218 of the SOA as this year's Stellaccio Lecturer

In the galleries....

 September 4 – October 25, 2018

Merwin Gallery: 
Dorothea Bilder "Brazilian Experience"

Monday, October 22: Dorothea Bilder Reception and artist talk at 11AM 
(galleries closed for fall break 10/19)

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Illinois Wesleyan University will feature the work of internationally celebrated painter and lithographer Dorothea Bilder ’62 from September 4 through October 25 in the Merwin Gallery of the Joyce Eichhorn Ames School of Art.

Much of Bilder’s art features abstract, fragmented, pastel landscapes intended to convey her ideas about how changing aspects of human civilization relate to the changing environment.

Dorothea’s artwork creates an experience for the viewer that draws on a connection to place,” said Julie Johnson, associate professor and interim director of the Ames School of Art. “Using a variety of materials and processes, her ethereal images speak to the power of our environment.” 

Dorothea Bilder

Born into a family of artists, art was a constant presence in Bilder’s childhood. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from IWU before continuing to hone her talents at La Romita School of Art in Terni, Italy; the Art Institute of Chicago; and Southern Illinois University, where she received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Painting.

A Professor Emeritus from the School of Art at Northern Illinois University, Bilder’s work has been displayed in exhibits around the world and has been added to permanent collections at institutions such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Central University of Queensland, Australia, and Northwestern University. Several major invitational exhibits have also featured her art, such as the Illinois Arts Council’s Congressional Exhibition in Washington, D.C.

The basis for much of Bilder’s artwork comes from the vibrant and diverse landscapes in Sao Paolo, Brazil, where she produced a series of lithographs at Ymagos Atelier de Gravuras de Arta Ltda as an artist-in-residence, though mythological tales and Bilder’s own life have also served as sources of inspiration.

Dorothea Bilder

Throughout her career, she has experimented with various artistic mediums, such as watercolor, lithography, serigraphy, monotyping, black rag and collage work. In a 1990 article by the Pioneer Press, Bilder asserted that varying her methods of producing art is an integral process of maturing as an artist.

I will always have the same vision, but I want to search and experiment with different methods to express that vision,” she said. “Otherwise, I’m nothing but an assembly line, and no one becomes an artist for that.”

Throughout the evolution of her landscapes – from the realistic to the abstract – Bilder’s work has aimed to connect with its audience on a fundamental level.

My art often challenges the viewer and may not easily be visually understood or accepted, but its narrative is universal,” Bilder said while offering her insights into Sight, Sound & Scent, her most widely-known body of work. “My art is about the landscape, the Earth and the energies of the Earth.

By Rachel McCarthy ’21

please click here to see Dorothea Bilder's full brochure


Wakeley Gallery: 
Grace Sheese "Red Thread"

Saturday, October 6:  2-4PM: Grace Sheese homecoming reception and artist talk at 2:15PM

Grace Sheese

Grace Sheese, an Illinois Wesleyan faculty member in the Ames School of Art, uses emotion and narrative to enrich her ceramic vessels and connect with her audience.  On each hand thrown vessel, Sheese's surface treatments range from her son's drawings, her own intimate sketches, to applied decals and text. In her exhibition, Red Thread, Sheese investigates the thin lines of relationships that interconnect and define our lives.

"After graduating, I spend the next 7 years living in 3 different states (Texas, Indiana and Oregon) and teaching 3rd and 4th grade.  It was in Eugene, Oregon that I had the opportunity to become a full time studio potter.  After our 4th move to Illinois, the opportunity to go to graduate school presented itself. 

Feeling stuck and bored with my work, I decided to give it a try.  At the tender age of 34, I became a student again.  Graduate school was scary, exhausting, exhilarating and a definite game changer.  I was no longer stuck and was far from being bored. 

Upon graduating from Illinois State University with a Masters of Fine Arts in ceramics in 2012, I re-established my studio practice. 

Currently, I live and work in Bloomington, IL.  In between a busy life with my son and husband, I am eagerly exploring my new found love for ceramics."  -Grace Sheese

 View more of Grace's work


Click here to see our Fall schedule of events and exhibitions



Tom Rice

Dorothea Bilder


Heather Brammeier


Dong Kyu Kim

Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber


Lindy Ihrman

All events are free and open to the public


Artists interested in showing at our galleries click the Link below for more information

Artists Submissions

The Merwin and Wakeley Galleries provide exhibition schedules that support our curriculum, the University community and the general public. These exhibitions mostly consist of contemporary artworks in all media. Each exhibition is meant to suggest the variety of visual approaches one may choose to present an idea. Student exhibitions include the Annual Juried School of Art Student Exhibition, the B.F.A. Candidate Exhibition and the B.F.A. and B.A. Degree Exhibition.

This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.