Sculptor Willard Wigan Visits Bowie State
By Venetta Bronson
Sculptor Willard Wigan paid a visit to Bowie State University's Department of Fine and Performing Arts earlier this month. Wigan's microscopic sculptures have gained critical acclaim all across the country. He has been a guest on widely watched television shows such as the "Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" and "Good Morning America" where he has attracted more than 32 million viewers across America, and his story has been featured in The Wall Street Journal.
Born in 1957 in Birmingham England, Wigan began creating works of art from a young age; he found that his microscopic sculptures provided him with an escape from the hardships of his youth. His sculptures are of such small proportions they cannot be seen with the naked eye. The size of one sculpture can be about 0.0002 of an inch and can hardly be seen without the aid of a microscope. Unlike most conventional artists, Wigan does not use the common tools of the trade such as the paintbrush, in order to complete his microscopic wonders. Instead Wigan uses the help of much less conventional tools such as human eyelashes, nylon, grains of sand, gold, dust fibers, hairs from a dead housefly and spider silk, the tools vary depending upon the piece he is working on. On average it takes Wigan a painstaking eight weeks to complete one sculpture. Making such minute sculptures has taken immense personal sacrifice. Because of the extremely small scale nature of his art it takes only the tiniest wrong move to destroy the sculpture, Wigan has had to learn overtime to control his nerves to ensure that each of his movements are precise, when working Wigan enters a meditative state in which his heartbeat slows and hand tremors lessen, allowing him to work in between his own heartbeat.
During his time at Bowie, Wigan displayed a handful of works he had completed in the past, they included Charlie Chaplin on an eyelash, a 24 carat gold ship atop a diamond, Henry VIII accompanied by his wives, the Statue of Liberty standing in the eye of a needle, Homer and Bart Simpson atop a pinhead, and the tea party from Alice in Wonderland, which he admitted drove him "insane."
As for future microscopic projects, Wigan hopes to sculpt Pandora's box, the little old lady who lived in a shoe, and the iconic Last Supper. Wigan's micro-sculptures have been featured in many galleries, both in the U.S. and in England. In London, an exhibition of Wigan's work is currently on display at the "My Little Eye Gallery," which attracts many tourists from all across the country. In the U.S., Wigan currently has several exhibitions of his works displayed in Los Angeles, Texas and Chicago to promote his USA tour which also includes stops in Washington and Atlanta, and he was recently honored at the Hollywood Salute to the Arts.
Wigan remains an artistic icon and an inspiration to millions of aspiring artists, sculptors and paintors alike, and serves as proof that greatness is not measured in size.