Jeff Whyman was born in St. Louis in 1953. He delights in remembering himself as an awed child watching the Gateway Arch being built, and he tells stories of his near simultaneous discovery of fossil shells, of clay that he could shape with his hands, and of fired clay in the form of salt-glazed sewer pipe being laid in his neighborhood. Shells and ceramics continued to be his interest in high school, and in college he struggled to make a choice, first studying marine biology in Miami and then studying ceramics at the Kansas City Art Institute.
He also fell under the influence of his teachers and of Voulkos, and he is loyal to those individuals. He and Voulkos had in common their first art expression being painting, their discovery of a feeling for clay, and their move to metal sculpture as a means to larger scale. It was Voulkos who urged Whyman to return to clay after years of concentrating on steel.
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