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Thank you, Jay Ekleberry, for 34 Years of Inspiration and Art

The Wisconsin Union team said goodbye on July 13 to longtime Wheelhouse Studios Director Jay Ekleberry as he started his next journey: retirement.

Jay working on a picture frame for a painting

Jay Ekleberry works on a picture frame for a painting.

For 34 years, Jay has worked to spark creativity and share his passion for art with students, staff, and the community. While the Union team will no doubt miss him, Jay has left a legacy of creativity, innovation, wisdom and inspiration with us.

“Jay’s legacy at Wheelhouse is that art is a process more than a product,” said Angie Cunnington, a Wheelhouse Studios team member. “We are an open, welcoming space for anyone who wants to engage in the arts, whether they want to dabble or need a formal workspace for their specialty. We have lived this mission that Jay led.”

He taught us the most important thing about art, isn’t the outcome but, rather, what you learn along the way and the ability to experience the value of art.

“Art is a verb. It’s about the process,” Jay has said. “The process and creative endeavor is where you learn, where you interact and where you build social capital.”

During Jay’s time at the Union, he was, in part, driven by the opportunity to help students of all majors engage with art. An avid learner, Jay constantly found ways to make the Union a place for them and others in the community to grow and experience art in whatever capacity that entailed.

Jay Ekleberry teaches a class on making clay figures in Wheelhouse Studios.

“Jay was an incredible Wheelhouse director, because he constantly encouraged us to actively use our autonomy as adults and students,” Angie said. “We were encouraged to bring our academic knowledge into the studio – science, social science, technical expertise, etc. He was positive and encouraging and fostered a familial comfort that led to growth and innovation of the space and ourselves.”

While we, the Union team, will miss him, we cannot wait to see what creative endeavors Jay will dedicate himself to next.

Thank you, Jay, for all you’ve done for our team and the people we serve. We are forever grateful for your vision, your kindness, and your unwavering commitment to bringing out the artist in everyone.

See the gallery below for images of the joy and art Jay helped inspire, and, to learn about beginning your artistic endeavors at Wheelhouse, visit union.wisc.edu/wheelhouse.

Author: Jade Anthony

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