Alumni Beyond Edgehill: Barry Wilker '71

In this feature, we check in with PDS/USN alumni from all over the world to take a look at all that life beyond Edgehill can entail. Learn about alum and artist Barry Wilker '71 and be sure to visit his “Handle with Color” exhibit in the Tibbott Center Gallery until Friday, April 19. 
By Ian Dinkins, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications 

To say Barry Wilker has led a colorful life since graduating from Peabody Demonstration School would be appropriate and exceedingly accurate given the backdrop of his exhibit “Handle with Color.” Wilker, a self-described fastidious and obsessively neat child who never liked to get his hands dirty, found finger painting in nursery school highly intriguing. In his seventh-grade drafting class at Peabody Demonstration School, he discovered something fun and engaging in executing the art of drafting. With the help of his instructor, Mr. Ralph, Wilker began drawing elevations and floor plans for houses. That spark led Wilker to what he thought was his destiny: becoming an architect — until he realized how much math was involved and summarily ditched that career path. The universe, it seemed, had other plans for Barry. It wasn’t until he started working at a local furniture store that he realized he could still carve out a life in the design world as an interior designer.
 
That passion for design led him to create his exhibit, “Handle with Color,” which is on display in the Tibbott Art Gallery. Before opening night, Wilker took a few moments to reflect on his time at PDS, the predecessor to University School of Nashville. 
 
Q: Please share a favorite memory from your time at 2000 Edgehill. 
A: Everything. I wasn’t the best student, but I always had great experiences at Peabody, especially in my art classes.
 
Q: How did your USN education prepare you for the work you're doing today?
A: I’ll admit that USN is a lot more fun now, but one thing that I always valued was the interactions that I had at school. Those conversations have always stayed with me, whether it was the teachers or fellow students.
 
Q: What's one piece of advice you have for USN students?
A: Appreciate where you are. USN is a special place that no one should take for granted.
 
“Handle with Color” is Wilker’s way of incorporating the vibrant shades he was seldom able to use in his interior design work. His art, resplendent with charm, irreverent wit, and whimsy, is joyful, vibrant, vivacious, and colorful. These engaging, extraordinary pieces reflect imagination, humor, and spirit — not at all dissimilar from the artist himself. 
 
You can see “Handle with Color” in the Tibbot Center Gallery through Friday, April 19.
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University School of Nashville models the best educational practices. In an environment that represents the cultural and ethnic composition of Metropolitan Nashville, USN fosters each student’s intellectual, artistic, and athletic potential, valuing and inspiring integrity, creative expression, a love of learning, and the pursuit of excellence.