Bill Hopen was born in Manhattan in l951. He studied painting for fouryears at City University of New York (Lehman College), then migrated toWest Virginia in his mid-twenties. Abandoning abstract painting, he began to study the figure in his rural studio. In the late 70's, his direct carvings in wood and stone became the focus of a two-year Artist's Residency supported by a state grant. Hopen won his first competition for a public sculpture commission in 1982, and soon became well-known for his many works installed at museums, universities, churches, hospitals and government buildings throughout the state of West Virginia.
Major bronze commissions in other states and national press coverage of his work show that Hopen is more than a regional artist; he is building a national reputation. His smaller works of personal expression have been acquired for private and corporate collections in New York, Chicago, Miami, Paris, Athens, and Singapore.
Hopen, a self-described "urban refugee", lives in the small town of Sutton, West Virginia (population 1197). In speaking of his town, he states, "It is a beautiful, peaceful place in which to create, and a wonderful community in which to live. It is my home."
" When I receive a commission, the meaning, the concept, develops the sculptural image. When I do personal work, it is through the work that I search for and evolve the meaning. My personal work is sculpture in search of its own meaning, sculpture as a process of discovery. "
Contained in this exhibit are three examples of Bill Hopen portrait studies. His latest commissioned project, a 10 foot tall bronze of Senator Robert C. Byrd on a large marble pedistal, is a permanent fixture on the floor of the rotunda beneath the West Virginia Capitol dome. It is a piece of West Virginia history, made 100% in state by Bill Hopen and assisting sculptor Cathy Brunt and Foundry man George Houston.