Born in Long Beach, California, William Hunter earned a B.A. degree in 1972 at California State University at Dominguez Hills. With the purchase of a woodturning table in 1969, he undertook this work as an untutored amateur. Before long, he was creating functional production pieces that he sold in craft fairs on the West Coast.
In 1973 Hunter moved to El Portal, California, on the edge of Yosemite Valley. In 1978 he abandoned production work in order to concentrate on one-of-a-kind pieces that offered greater creative rewards. In the early 1980s Hunter, in collaboration with his wife, Marianne, created sumptuous pieces embellished with enamels and gems. At this time Hunter turned ivory, amber, fossilized walrus tusk, and cast plastic, as well as exotic woods. Hunter acknowledges the influence of work by Isamu Noguchi, Alberto Giacometti, and Constantin Brancusi.
Hunter has moved from vessel forms to open spirals that are purely sculptural in inspiration and orientation. These open turnings are a technical tour de force, bringing to mind the geometric perfection of floral patterns and nautilus chambers.
Kenneth R. Trapp and Howard Risatti Skilled Work: American Craft in the Renwick Gallery (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998)
William Hunter first came into contact with a lathe when he was ten years old and bought his own in 1969. He uses rare and exotic woods and carves freehand into the turning forms, moving his whole body with the motion to create sweeping, fluid shapes. Hunter's pieces evoke the rhythmic ripples of sand, water currents, and wind-ruffled feathers found in the river canyon near his home.