Michael Beatty, Newton, MA Paul Bowen, Williamsville, VT Rosemary Broton Boyle, Waltham, MA Donna Dodson, Boston, MA Stephan Fowlkes, Brooklyn, NY Bob Lewis, Newton, MA Greg Mencoff, Somerville, MA Rob Millard-Mendez, Evansville, IN Andy Moerlein, Bow, NH Dawn Southworth, Gloucester, MA
Further Information: (508) 793-8818 Elli Crocker, Assoc. Professor and Gallery Director (508) 793-7349 Tina Zlody, Visual & Performing Arts Events Coordinator
This exhibition includes the work of ten artists who use wood as medium and conceptual source. In an era when technology has altered the realm of art making as much as everything else in our lives, these artists celebrate that most ancient and primal of raw materials - wood. While the material is the unifying theme, each artist creates unique forms that draw their inspiration from the inherent beauty, natural qualities, and enduring power of wood.
In many ways wood offers a corollary to the human body suggesting living, organic, sensuous form with trunks and limbs, heart and skin that is also subject to growth, change, and ultimately decay. Our interdependence with trees is so elemental that we breathe what they exhale and they “inhale” our exhalations. Indeed, many peoples of the world throughout human history have attributed animistic qualities to trees, including the belief in hamadryads or tree spirits. Trees and their fruits have sheltered us, warmed us, fed us, and inspired us. Connected to our survival in the most fundamental of ways, humans have also employed wood to create art - whether carving magical totems or fabricating new images from the scavenged detritus of a society. As an artistic medium, wood offers both strength and pliability, elegance and rawness, commonness and preciousness.
The ten artists exhibiting their art in WoodWork employ various processes from assemblage to carving, carefully selecting a specific wood variety to gathering salvage, working figuratively to non-objectively, and on the wall, floor, or pedestal. Paul Bowen, Rosemary Broton Boyle, Stephan Fowlkes, and Dawn Southworth collect scrap wood and convert this found material into transcendent form. The sense of time and history, the distressed surfaces, and hints of earlier uses inform the finished pieces that become impossible contraptions, shrines, or humorous musings. Donna Dodson explores the mystical relationship between humans and the animal kingdom, creating archetypal chimeras through the carving and polishing of carefully selected types of wood, revealing their unique grain and color. Rob Millard-Mendez describes his sculptures as large toys, employing dark humor to comment on human foibles. Blending folk art references and formal conceptual concerns, his art engages the viewer on several levels – both fun and interactive as well as provocative and challenging. Michael Beatty, who is a professor of art at consortium school, The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, borrows construction methods from traditional, functional forms of woodworking, boat building, and metal fabrication. Most recently he’s been interested in the correlation between the natural world and mathematics, seeking out the basic patterns underlying the complexity of what we see in Nature. Andy Moerlein also looks to Nature, exploring the interaction of human psyche and natural forces - whether the rapid fluctuations of weather or the gradual shifts of geology - ultimately creating highly personal narratives. In his richly process-oriented work, Bob Lewis creates mysterious and unsettling monuments to failed endeavors, lapsed dreams, and human hubris. Greg Mencoff, explores the psychology and implications of the built form and the architecture of ordinary things. Of his sculptures, he comments, “their content is a reflection of the process…instinct has us build, and through that process is learned something of ourselves, helping to define a culture”.
Associate Professor of Art Elli Crocker curated this exhibition with the help of students Molly Burman, Phoebe Cape, Scott Coffrin, Victoria Grogan, Nina Haglund, Ann Kerrin, Ashley McNelis, Claudia Olcese-Rivera, and Stephanie Richardson.