Cassie Wice

St. Louisans Cassie and Martin Wice have been collecting art for 17 years, and now they boast a collection of more than 200 pieces. And these are not your run-of-the-mill signed posters, either. LN caught up with the couple to get a glimpse of how they started collecting art and why.

LN: What do you collect?

CW: Primarily fiber art, including baskets, quilts and weavings. Paper and beads are also considered part of the fiber world. What we tend to look for is new uses or interpretations of how to use the different materials.

LN: What drew you to this medium?

CW: We started in glass, that was our first craft art. Glass is really obvious and sparkly, but as we learned more and more, we became interested in not just traditional forms, but how you could take things and put them into more contemporary sculptures and 3-D forms. We had a great teacher, Jane Sauer, who lived in St. Louis and is a renowned knotter, she creates sculptures out of knotting. She even has one or two pieces at the art museum.

LN: When did you start your collection?

CW: It was in ’91 at Laumeier Sculpture Park’s Mother’s Day festival, and we’ve been going ever since.

LN: What is one of your favorite pieces?

CW: One by Jane Sauer in wood. It’s two pieces, a mother protecting her child.

MW: There’s also a contemporary basket with multiple openings and two fiber figures inside that represent the womb. We have twins. And then there’s Jan Hopkins’ piece, a woman’s torso made out of cantaloupe and grapefruit skins. It’s from Chicago and was the front cover of the catalogue for a fiber arts show there two years ago.

LN: What facinatthe subject matter?

MW: Each piece represents the artist and their creativity and spirit, and that gets transmitted to the pieces. You feel that energy. We feel like we’re sharing our house with the artists.

LN: will your art appreciate over the years?

CW: We have no idea. We buy it because we love it, but some of the pieces have appreciated already.

LN: Have you ever tried creating art yourselves?

CW: My husband hasn’t really, but I’ve attempted to. I’ve taken glassblowing classes at Craft Alliance and Third Degree and knotting classes. I’ve come to the conclusion that I appreciate it more and more as I try it and see how hard it is. I also learned we belong on the collecting end!

LN: What is important about being a collector? Do you feel it entails certain responsibilities?

CW: We lend our pieces out so that others can see the possibilities and enjoy our artwork.We hope viewers will want to support the artists if they can by purchasing things. We’re trying to promote the field in general, because artists need others to promote them in order to survive. We’ll buy a piece from an emerging artist just to support them, even when they haven’t hit the highest point they will achieve. We feel like custodians and will pass the art on so others can appreciate it in the future.

MW: This has given us a great deal of pleasure, and we hope that others will become collectors and have the same enjoyment while also supporting the art community in St. Louis, the artists, the galleries and the art schools.