Best known for bronze sculptures of female nudes in motion, John Waddell was born in 1921 in Iowa. He attended the Art Institute of Chicago and had his first solo show in Peoria, IL at age 21. He was in the military and the G.I. Bill financed the remainder of his formal education, which is two M.F.A.s in Fine Arts and Art Education.
He and his wife, Ruth, a close partner in his professional as well as his personal life, moved to Arizona in 1957. He headed the Art Education Department at Arizona State University (then Arizona State College) for several years. During this time Waddell made sculpture his primary art form. The 1963 church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, in which four young girls died, became a pivotal event in his development as an artist. The monument he created in response to that tragedy, “That Which Might Have Been”, Birmingham, 1963, resides in the garden he designed for it at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Lincoln Drive in Phoenix.
At age 43 he resigned from teaching to become a full-time sculptor. His work has been collected internationally. A prolific artist, there are 14 public venues in Phoenix alone, where his work is on display. He has also had exhibitions and permanent
installations throughout the United States. The Waddells have lived in the Verde Valley, near Sedona, Arizona since 1970.
He is considered an Arizona Treasure and Legacy artist.