Washburn football player shows off-field talent with art exhibit

Washburn Ichabods

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Sports are their own art form, but Washburn running back Zach Willis is an artist both on and off the field.

“It was important for me to kind of portray to others what I go through,” Willis said.

Between scoring touchdowns and daily football practices, Willis is creating art.

“People can appreciate when they actually see sculptures and stuff,” Willis said. “They can get in that directionality of looking up.”

He actually came to Washburn as a business major, but quickly decided that wasn’t for him.

“You know, I just didn’t have that heart for business, and I was really thinking, ‘What do I want to do?'” Willis said. “I got into thinking about computers, and how I love creating art and just being creative. So, I came down here and just seeing the stuff they had on display, I was like ‘Yeah, this is what I want to do.”

Willis was born creative. He entered and won a logo design contest in elementary school.

“At first I would say I just kind of put color on there, shapes on there and just say I like them,” he said.

Now, he’s showing off in his senior art exhibit, which is in the first floor of the art building on Washburn’s campus.

“I’m really starting to think how things work together, and what it really means when something’s bold or if something’s in a smaller font or skinny words,” Willis said. “I just started thinking more critically about things.”

Most of his pieces are digital art and design, but there’s a sculpture series in his exhibit, too.

“My original thought was creating forms, and I started getting into architecture,” he said.

Art and football go hand-in-hand for Willis.

“When I’m creating these things, I’m really thinking about ‘How can it move others?’ and even when I’m out on the football field, I’m always thinking ‘How can I really help this team?'” Willis said. “How can I really contribute?”

His coaches and teammates have taken the time to visit the exhibit.

“Really, he’s talented,” Washburn football head coach Craig Schurig said. “It was neat to see that. Usually, you see your kids as football players, and then you get to know their academics. But, to see it first-hand was really cool. We’re really proud of him.”

A lot of Willis’ work is inspired by his family, too. Those works and more will be on display through Nov. 5.

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December 31 2021 11:59 pm

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