Wilbat’s glass is distinguished by his fusion of abstract design and playful use of color. By merging ancient glassblowing techniques with his modern eye for design, he creates glass that unites tradition and innovation. His color and composition are highly influenced by his love for Abstract Expressionist painting. Wilbat’s style has evolved over time, drawing upon his background in ceramics and experience in both drawing and painting. Wilbat had the opportunity to study under talented glassblowers, including Joel Myers, Dan Dailey, William Carlson, and Vernon Brejcha. While all of these masters influenced his development as an artist, Wilbat’s own style can be described as whimsical, yet functional.
As early as age ten, James Wilbat’s creativity was sparked when he began studying drawing and watercolor. His passion for art continued at Illinois State University, where he studied ceramics and received a Bachelor of Science in Fine Arts in 1977. While his focus during his undergraduate education was ceramics, he was introduced to glassblowing during his senior year. This discovery was the catalyst for Wilbat’s career; from this point on he was dedicated to learning about this challenging and unusual medium. In order to master this new craft, Wilbat studied at the University of Kansas, earning a Master of Fine Art degree in Design in 1980. Since graduating, Wilbat has continued to develop his personal style and manage his own glass business. Some of the highlights of his career are having his work in the Rockford Art Museum, winning awards at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, and sitting on the jury of prestigious art shows.