Monday, July 19, 2010

Historical Woods Show @ Furniture Society Conference

While wondering around the Furniture Society Conference a few of weeks ago, I came across this interesting exhibit of work by a number of famous furniture makers using trees from historically important American sites, many of which have documentation of being planted by the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and others. For example, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter in 1807 in which he mentioned planting a tulip poplar in the exact location that a dead tulip poplar was removed from in 2008 and, hence, used for many of these works of art.

The exhibit, titled National Treasures: History in the Making, is the vision of William E. Jewell who co-curated the show with renowned wood artist Jacques Vesery, and has been organized by Historical Woods of America. In addition to the great furniture artists that were featured in this show, sculptural works were also made by renowned artists Binh Pho, David Ellsworth, Mark Lindquist, and Robyn Horn as well as Jacques Versery. Images of all these works are included in a very nice catalog which can be seen here.

This piece by Wendy Maruyama, titled Fractured, is part of her E.O. 9066 series, a references to the executive order President Roosevelt signed allowing for the internment of Japanese Americans. The piece is made from Thomas Jefferson's elm tree and references the fragmenting effects, both emotional and physical, of the historic event. I think, knowing the background makes it a more powerful piece, but on its own it is just really cool. I like the original nature of having the doors slide at different angles, allowing the user to create different works of art by moving them around.
12" x 85" x 15"

Thomas Jefferson's Monticello Elm

Wendy Maruyama

Fractured closeup

Silas Kopf created this Founding Father's Writing Desk and Thomas Hucker created a complementary writing chair, Dearest Sally, both with Silas's marquetry. The desk appears to have an initial draft of the Declaration of Independence with the line, "We hold this truth to be self-evident," and "this truth" is crossed out to be replaced by "these truths". The chair appears to have a letter hidden on the lower level and folded over with only the words, "Dearest Sally" revealed. These are both classic examples of the humor Silas often imbues into his work.
Founding Fathers Writing Desk
30" x 52" x 20"
Silas Kopf
Dearest Sally
32" x 20" x 20"
Thomas Hucker
both made with
George Washington Whiskey Distillery Walnut
w/fifteen different historic woods for marquetry (by Silas Kopf)

Thomas also created this pair of side tables on his own. It takes the concept of pie crust tables and makes them completely contemporary. As with the writing desk chair and many of the pieces on his website, bringing traditional designs into contemporary life is something he often tends to do.
Washington Side Tables
24" x 16" x 24"
George Washington Whiskey Distillery Walnut

Thomas Hucker

Brian Newell created this scroll case because of the importance of documents to the founding of the nation and he made it out of wood associated with James Monroe and James Madison, at least in part, because of their importance in creating many of the countries early documents. The top of the case has carved calligraphic fragment lettering (difficult to visualizer from this angle).
Scroll Case
7.5" x 6.5" x 21.5"
James Monroe Boxwood and James Madison Cedar of Lebonon
Brian Newell

Garry Knox Bennett's work commonly features odd juxtapositions and this chair, made with Thomas Jefferson tulip poplar and Formica ColorCore, is no exception. He used a Rietveld Zig Zag chair design because of its distance from the Windsor-style chair and added a writing-arm because Thomas Jefferson supposedly had something to do with adding them to Windsor chairs. It is a completely modern piece and, I think, pretty optimistic because it forces the viewer to look toward the future.
Post Windsor Writing Chair
30.75" x 21" x 28.25"
Thomas Jefferson's Monticello Tulip Poplar,
ColorCore™ , PVC, paint
Garry Knox Bennett

Michael Cullen's intricately carved chest is a celebration of what George Washington called "the first nation in history that is based on an idea, and the idea is one of essential human dignity and justice." Using walnut from Mount Vernon, he carved the entire outer body of the chest, including the bead work on the top and included numerous symbolic references to the thirteen original colonies as a way of conveying the original ideas upon which the country was founded.
A Chest for a New Idea
30" x 27" x 11"
Mount Vernon Walnut, George Washington
Whiskey Distillery Walnut, milk paint
Michael Cullen

William Jewell also included a couple of his own pieces in the show. They are made with saguaro cactus skeletons from the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation and have a historical significance of a different nature through the witnessing of many transformations within the Tohono O'odham culture. Their inclusion in the show adds a cultural twist and his use of saguaro cactus skeletons adds a unique sculptural element that is both mysterious and beautiful (note: saguaro cactus is a protected species and a permit is needed to harvest and transport them (dead or alive) out of Arizona, as stated here).
36" x 22" x 22"
Jarrah Burl (Australia), Saguaro Cactus Skeleton (Sonora Desert)
William E. Jewell

38" x 88" x 16"
Figured Walnut (Virginia), Saguaro Cactus Skeleton (Sonora Desert)
William E. Jewell

No comments:

Post a Comment