Walter Hyleck is widely recognized as one of the best working potters in Appalachia. After graduating with a Master’s degree in Fine Arts from Tulane University, he placed roots in Berea, Kentucky, beginning his career as an educator at Berea College. In 1970 he founded Berea College’s Ceramic Apprenticeship Program, an important program still operating today. Teachers in this program mentor students in the technical aspects of ceramic design, production, and marketing while also helping to develop students’ artistic vision and expression. This program fostered close relationships between students and faculty and helped produce many of Appalachia’s most impactful ceramic artists and teachers.
Since his retirement after 40 years at Berea College, Hyleck has continued working in his personal studio. Hyleck has participated in over 250 solo, invitational, and juried exhibitions, which include showing work at the Smithsonian Institute in DC, the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC, and the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft in Louisville, KY. He has also held workshops and classes across the United States and Canada. His work is held in numerous permanent collections, including at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, California; the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC; and the University of Indianapolis.