Artist Talks

Craft, process, and practice — the Center's Artist Talk Series continues with engaging presentations and conversations from our community of artists, makers, and special guests.

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Extra-Human: The Art of Michael Ferris with the artist and guest curator Suzanne Ramljak!

The Center for Art in Wood invites you to the virtual reception celebrating the opening of its new exhibition, Extra-Human: The Art of Michael Ferris with the artist and guest curator Suzanne Ramljak!

Michael Ferris’s work has been exhibited widely throughout the nation at notable institutions including the Elmhurst Art Museum in Illinois; The Bronx Museum in New York; The Queens Museum of Art in New York; ATM Gallery in New York; Katonah Art Museum in New York; de Young Museum in San Francisco, California; and The Illinois State Museums in Illinois. He has received awards from numerous organizations including the New York Foundation for the Arts (2009), The George Sugarman Foundation (2005), and the American Craft Council (2002). Ferris’s work can be found in public collections at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, CA; Illinois State Museum in Springfield, IL; and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AR. His exhibitions have been featured in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, and The Chicago Tribune.

Suzanne Ramljak, an art historian and writer, is currently a curator at the American Federation of Arts, New York. She was formerly editor of Metalsmith and of Sculpture magazines. Ramljak has worked in the curatorial departments of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and the University of Michigan Museum of Art. Among the exhibitions she has independently curated are Romancing the Brain; Case Studies: Art in a Valise; Playtime: Toys for Adults; and Natural Wonders: The Sublime in Contemporary Art. Her books include, On Body and Soul: Contemporary Armor to Amulets and Loaded: Guns in Contemporary Art.

Michael Ferris

Suzanne Ramljak

Artist Talk with Vered Babai

Join us for a discussion with Israeli-based artist Vered Babai. We’ll talk with her about her choice of materials and what contemporary jewelry means to her.

Vered Babai: Since her graduation from the department of Jewelry Design at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, in 1993, Vered moved to Tel-Aviv and opened her private studio.

Her works have been exhibited in museums and galleries all over the world, and have received national awards such as the American Israel Craft Foundation Prize for Art and Sculpture and the Israeli Ministry of Culture and Sport Prize for Design. Her work has been exhibited in solo exhibitions in Paris, Trieste, and Izola.

Vered has taught at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, and at HaStudio in Ra’anana, Israel. For more than 20 years, she gives private lessons in her studio.

In recent years, she has also curated international exhibitions in the field of contemporary jewelry.

Vered Babai

Connection – A performative work by artist Dierra Jones

Join us for performance and discussion with contemporary jewelry artist Dierra Jones. Connection is a performance piece about the personal relationships we form to people and places in our lives. With one connection we form a link, but with many connections, we form a chain. A connection creates stability and sturdiness.

Dierra Jones is an artist and a K-5 visual arts teacher based in Savannah, GA. She holds a BFA in Studio Arts from Virginia State University and a MFA in Jewelry from Savannah College of Art and Design. Storytelling and place both psychologically and geographically are important aspects in Jones’s studio practice, where each piece is inscribed with her emotions and identity. This causes a transference between the work and the viewer, which is a subjective experience.

Dierra Jones

Artist Talk with David Bielander

Join us for a talk with contemporary jewelry artist David Beilander. We’ll hear David speak about his method, why he chooses to work in the materials he does, and what contemporary jewelry means to him.

David Bielander, is a Swiss-born artist, based in Munich, Germany. His works investigate questions about identity, affiliation, judgment, and perception, how it is steered, and how one can shift it. “Bielander takes the familiarity of everyday objects and combines them with a witty ab- straction to create truly uncanny pieces of wearable art.”* The creation of iconic works of contemporary jewelry like Lip (1999), Scampi (2007), Python (2011), or Cardboard (2015) makes him one of the key jewelry artists working today. He has won numerous awards including the Herbert Hoffmann Prize in 2010, the Fran- coise van den Bosch Award in 2012, and the Swiss Grand Prix Award in 2017. After an apprenticeship as a goldsmith in Basel and working for Georg Spreng in Schwä- bisch Gmünd, Germany, he studied from 1995 until 2001 at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich with Prof Otto Künzli, graduating as a Meisterschüler in 2002. From 2006 until 2010 David Bielander was the creative assistant of Prof Daniel Kruger at the Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design, Halle/Saale, and from 2011 until 2013 external tutor in the Jewellery Department of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam (NL). His work is represented by Ornamentum Gallery in Hudson, NY (US), Rob Koudijs in Amsterdam (NL), Gallery S O in London and Solothurn (GB/CH), Gallery Funaki in Mel- bourne (AU), Antonella Villanova in Florence (IT), Galerie Wittenbrink in Munich (DE) and ATTA gallery Bangkok (TH).

David Bielander

What is Contemporary Jewelry (and Why Should We Care)?

Join us for a panel discussion with contemporary jewelry historians and experts Helen W. Drutt English, Elizabeth Essner, and Bella Neyman, with Philadelphia-based artist Caroline Gore.

Helen W. Drutt English (Helen Drutt) was Founder/Director of her eponymous gallery in Philadelphia (1973–2002), which was among the first in the United States to commit to the modern and contemporary craft movement. In 1973, she developed the first syllabus for a college-level course of the history of the field. She has received numerous awards and three honorary degrees, including a doctorate from Alfred University. Drutt is a fellow of the American Craft Council, and serves on the American Board, National Gallery of Australia; the Peter Dormer Lecture Advisory Committee, London, and the American board of the Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum, Athens. She was a trustee of the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC (2010-21); served on the Advisory Committee, Indian and Himalayan Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art (1996-2019); and was a curatorial consultant for The Hermitage Museum Foundation: USA (2013-15). Drutt built a permanent collection of contemporary crafts for the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia, and is building a collection of American craft for the National Museum of Sweden. Her own collection of international studio jewelry has exhibited in the US and abroad; in 2002, 800 works entered the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Jewelry exhibitions organized by Drutt include, “Brooching it Diplomatically: A Tribute to Madeleine K. Albright” (1998-2001), “Challenging the Chatelaine!” (2006-07), American studio jewelry for the Museo del Gioiello Vicenza, Italy (2016-18), and most recently “Rings!” at Moore College of Art, Philadelphia (2021), which will travel in 2022.

Elizabeth Essner is an independent curator, writer, and researcher based in Brooklyn, New York. She has curated exhibitions for the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Connecticut, Arizona State University Art Museum, and R & Company in New York, where she organized Body/Motion, a solo exhibition of the Japanese-born, Thailand-based jeweler and artist Aya Ito. Recently, Elizabeth served as a researcher for RINGS!, curated by Helen Drutt at Moore College of Art & Design. She was also a co-author and researcher for the recently published Shapes from Out of Nowhere: Ceramics from the Robert A. Ellison Jr. Collection, the companion catalogue to an exhibition and gift to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A 2017 Curatorial Fellow with the Center for Craft, Elizabeth received her MA from the Bard Graduate Center in New York.

Bella Neyman is the co-founder of New York City Jewelry Week. She is also an independent curator and journalist specializing in contemporary jewelry. Most recently she served on the Curatorial Advisory Committee for “45 Stories in Jewelry: 1947 to Now” (on view through 2022) at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. Since graduating with a Master’s Degree in Decorative Arts and Design History from Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum & Parsons, The New School for Design in 2008, she has worked for some of New York City’s leading design galleries. Bella’s articles have been published in The New York Times, American Craft, and the Magazine Antiques. She is also a frequent contributor to Metalsmith magazine. Bella lectures on topics related to the history of jewelry at the 92Y Jewelry Center and Christie’s Education. She is on the Board of Art Jewelry Forum. Bella and her family reside in Brooklyn.

Caroline Gore’s studio practice is deeply rooted in jewelry and metalsmithing processes – although outcomes vary in media, scale and implementation ranging from jewelry to sculptural installations, photography and large-scale drawing. She maintains a studio in northeast Philadelphia at the Crane Arts Building. Her teaching career has spanned 20 years at numerous institutions in the United States and abroad. Her work often circles around investigations of site and the direct and often indirect relationships we have to place and objects through experience and remembering. She is currently represented by Gallery Loupe located in Montclair New Jersey, and her work can be found in the permanent collection of The Museum of Fine Arts – Houston, The Museum of Fine Arts – Boston, Racine Art Museum, and numerous private collections.

Wood & Body curatorial talk with Jennifer-Navva Milliken

Join us for a talk with Artistic Director and Curator Jennifer-Navva Milliken to learn about her thinking behind the exhibition Wood + Body: Expressions of Contemporary Jewelry. This small but international showing of contemporary jewelry made from wood offers a wide range of approaches, concepts, and questions while encouraging viewers to consider the creative potential of wood and adornment. Don’t miss this fascinating talk diving into the world of contemporary jewelry.

Jennifer-Navva Milliken is the artistic leader of the Center and is responsible for creating and executing the exhibition schedule, facilitating the annual Windgate ITE International Residency program, maintaining the integrity of the museum collection and research library, and overseeing the Center’s publishing and documentation activities. Before coming to the Center in May 2018, she worked as an independent curator and consultant, following her tenure as the Curator of Craft and Design and the interim curatorial director at the Bellevue Arts Museum [BAM]. Before joining BAM, she established INTER ALIA projects, a curatorial enterprise based in Tel Aviv, Israel, and New York, NY. INTER ALIA fostered dialogues surrounding contemporary art, studio craft, design, and new media through site-specific pop-up exhibitions, gallery programming, writing, and advocacy for artists practicing in these fields. Milliken has lived in several locales including Jerusalem, New York, Seoul, and Tel Aviv. In addition to her time at BAM, she has been an embedded staff member at a number of cultural institutions and museums, among them the Museum of Arts & Design (MAD), New York, and The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. She serves on the board of the Furniture Society and is a member of the International Council of Museums. Milliken remains in demand as a lecturer and writer due to her expertise in contemporary craft and design. She authored the exhibition catalogue WHY WOOD? Contemporary Practice in a Timeless Material, a 2016 Collectors of Wood Art publication, as well as Humaira Abid: Taboo, which was released in 2018 in conjunction with the traveling exhibition Humaira Abid: Searching for Home — which was on view at the Center for Art in Wood in 2020.

Jennifer-Navva Milliken

Please, Please, Please, Philadelphia

Join us for Please, Please, Please, Philadelphia, a discussion about seating in the city featuring furniture designer-maker John Lutz, restoration expert and connoisseur of Early-American Furniture Chris Storb, and Emily Zilber, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Strategic Partnerships at the Wharton Esherick Museum. We’ll hear about the history and tie local made furniture to our current exhibition Tom Loeser: Please, Please, Please.

John Lutz is a woodworker, furniture designer, manager and educator. His work is highly influenced by the relationship between craftsperson and material through the process of producing the final product. Lutz’ career began with working in the industry for high end furniture, while also teaching at the Rochester Institute of Technology and Penland School of Crafts. He received his BFA in Woodworking and Furniture Design in 1984 from Rochester Institute of Technology. He soon after began working for Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers in Maine, where he spent over 18 years working with the company. John has been awarded design patents and Innovation design awards. He has lead several AIA lectures, taught certified courses to interior designers. Since 2008 John has been General Manager of George Nakashima Woodworkers, and continues to create his own works while focusing on the process of making traditional forms. In addition to his work John supports the wood community as Board Member for the Center for Art in Wood in Philadelphia.

Christopher Storb has worked as furniture conservator for over 40 years. Most recently he worked at the Philadelphia Museum of Art from 2003 to 2019. His expertise is in the history of woodworking techniques, processes, and materials, coupled with the ability to share that expertise in a meaningful way with students and the general public. He has lectured and written widely on historic furniture and maintains the blog “In Proportion to the Trouble” where he examines all things regarding the arts and mysteries of woodcraft.

Emily Zilber is the Director of Curatorial Affairs and Strategic Partnerships at the Wharton Esherick Museum. She maintains an independent curatorial and consulting practice and is currently Guest Curator at the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum for the 2021 Renwick Invitational. She is adjunct faculty at Tyler School of Art and Architecture and speaks regularly on topics related to craft, design, and museum practice. Zilber was the first Wornick Curator of Contemporary Decorative Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and has also held positions as Assistant Curator at Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum and Editor of Metalsmith and Metalsmith Tech. Zilber serves on the boards of trustees of the Center for Craft in Asheville, NC and CraftNOW Philadelphia, and is on the Collections Committee of the Center for Art in Wood.


Artist Talk with Trent Preszler

Join us for a talk with master boat builder and vineyard CEO Trent Preszler. We will hear Trent speak about his journey to woodworking and how he taught himself how to build his first canoe. We’ll also learn about his artistic practice, which is imbued with the four elements of the outdoorsman: wood, water, sky, and life. Don’t miss this chance to hear Trent share his inspiring and moving story.

Trent Preszler grew up on a cattle ranch in South Dakota and received his BS from Iowa State University in 1998. He was subsequently awarded a Rotary Scholarship to the UK and a diploma from the Royal Botanic Garden. After a White House internship for President Bill Clinton, he earned an MS in agricultural economics and a PhD in horticulture from Cornell University. He is now the CEO of Bedell Cellars and founder of Preszler Woodshop in New York. A Newsday documentary about his life won the 2018 New York Emmy Award for outstanding lifestyle feature. Little and Often, his first book, is a USA Today Best Book of 2021: “Insightful, lyrical… Little and Often proves to be a rich tale of self-discovery and reconciliation. Resonating with Robert Pirsig’s classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, it is a profound father-and-son odyssey.”


How it Started and How it's Going with Joe Seltzer

How it Started and How it’s Going, a speaker series with collectors. We’ll dive into their collections and learn about how they got started and why; we’ll hear what attracts them to certain pieces and see some of their favorite works. We will also discuss what makes someone a collector of art and how to start your own collection. Our first talk will feature Collector, Woodturner, and retired Educator Joe Seltzer.

Don’t miss this special glimpse into a collection!

Joe Seltzer is a woodturner and avid collector of wood art. He first noticed woodturning in 1985 when he went to the Renwick to see the Jacobson Collection. He began to go to local craft shows and shortly thereafter, decided to limit his collection to pieces less than 7 inches in height or diameter. In about 1988 he read a newspaper article about Albert LeCoff, tracked him down, and went to visit. From that and many subsequent interactions, he began to learn about the field. He started to go to national craft shows and conferences and met many artists and collectors who became friends. He is a founding Board Member of the Collectors of Wood Art (CWA), was on the Board for 12 years, including a term as President. He helped organize two conferences presented jointly by the CWA and the Wood Turning Center (now CAW).

In 1998, Joe became involved with the annual local collaborative conference called Echo Lake and has been on the steering committee and attended ever since. He helped organize a tenth anniversary retrospective exhibition held at CAW and a twentieth-anniversary retrospective exhibit at New Hope Arts.

His collection now includes over 1200 objects, all of which except about two dozen fit the 7-inch criteria.

Joe Seltzer

The 2020 Bob Stocksdale International Excellence in Wood Award: Kristin LeVier

Kristin LeVier

Kristin LeVier, photo by Jonathan Billing

Jena Gilbert-Merrill

Jena Gilbert-Merrill, photo by Emily Bach

Join us to celebrate the fifth year of the Bob Stocksdale International Excellence in Wood Award. Supported by an anonymous donor, this award is presented annually to an emerging or mid-career artist whose work unites quality of craftsmanship and respect for material, for which renowned master woodturner Bob Stocksdale (1913–2003) is known. The 2020 recipient for the Bob Stocksdale International Excellence in Wood Award is Kristin LeVier, Moscow, ID.

In commemoration of the 2020 Stocksdale Award, Jena Gilbert-Merrill, a current Lois F. McNeil Fellow in the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, will present a lecture on LeVier and renowned master woodturner Bob Stocksdale (1913 – 2003). Gilbert-Merrill, whose research interest is focused on the history and experience of empathy-embedded objects and materials, will discuss LeVier’s work in the context of Stocksdale’s impact and legacy, including his quality of craftsmanship, respect for materials, commitment to human rights, and artistic innovation in the material of wood.

About the Stocksdale Award

The Bob Stocksdale International Excellence in Wood Award was launched by the Center for Art in Wood in 2016 to honor Stocksdale’s legacy while linking his work with a new generation of artists and makers who work in the material of wood. It is awarded to a selected artist, emerging or established, whose work embodies reverence for materials and dedication to craftsmanship-values that resonate throughout Stocksdale’s body of work.

The artist is granted a prize of $1,000. Another $500 is allocated for documentation to an honorarium to be given to a research fellow, who delivers a lecture at a program organized by the Center in partnership with Winterthur Museum and its Research Fellowship Program in American Material Culture. This lecture will examine the laureate’s work in the context of the values and characteristics inherent in Bob’s body of work. The inaugural award recipient was Jakob Weissflog; the 2017 winner was Dean Pulver; the 2018 laureate was Ben Strear and the 2019 awardee was Humira Abid.

Beginning in 2019, the Stocksdale Award is adjudicated by a committee. The esteemed members of this committee are: Christine Knoke, Deputy Director of the Mingei International Museum; Michael Monroe, Director Emeritus of Bellevue Arts Museum and the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum; Michael Puryear, artist, woodworker, and furniture maker; Kevin Wallace, Executive Director of the Beatrice Wood Foundation; and Jennifer-Navva Milliken, Artistic Director of the Center for Art in Wood.

Lessons from the Chair

Join us for an evening with Don Miller, a woodworker, luthier, and educator; Mi-Kyoung Lee, Professor and Program Director of Craft+Material Studies at the University of the Arts; and two of their former students, Joong Han Bae and Nick Flaherty. We’ll talk about the fundamentals of building a chair, and—perhaps more importantly—how learning a skill impacts our own growth and understanding of the object as an extension of the physical and metaphysical body.

Don Miller is a Philadelphia-based woodworker and educator. He holds an MFA in 3D Design from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and studied musical instrument design at London College of Furniture. After 14 years of teaching at The University of the Arts, Miller retired as an Associate Professor from Crafts & Material Studies Program. He has participated in residencies in Sweden and South Korea. He has numerous exhibitions nationally and internationally including the Mulvane Museum, Fuller Craft Museum, Center for Craft, Seokdang Art Museum, in Korea, Steneby Skolan and Rohska Museey in Sweden. He was a contributing writer for the recent publication Craft Time in Craft Capital, written by Glen Adamson, to celebrate Contemporary Crafts and its history in Philadelphia. He makes objects, both contemplative and functional, working at the intersection of material, process and history. He inhabits a workshop in Germantown, Pennsylvania.

Mi-Kyoung Lee has been Director of the Craft and Material Studies Program since 2016, and Professor of Fibers/Textiles since 2003 at University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She received her BFA from Dong-A University in Korea, and earned two master’s degrees; an MFA in Book Arts and Printmaking from University of the Arts; and an MFA in Fibers from Cranbrook Academy of Arts. Lee has participated in numerous solo exhibitions, lectures as well as curatorial, publishing, theater, and collaborative projects with notable venues like the Arizona Art Museum, Cranbrook Museum of Art, Reading Public Museum, Painted Bride Art Center, SOFA in New York and Chicago, Busan Metropolitan Museum, Espace de Tisserands, International Fiber Art Fair in Seoul, Beijing International Fiber Biennale, and the 8th Beijing International Visual Art Biennale. Lee has served as a Foreign Expert from the School of Art and Design, Tsinghua University, Beijing, and as an Advisory Board member for the Center for Emerging Visual Artists in Philadelphia since 2019.

Joonghan Bae is a 31-year-old artist and designer based in Bloomfield Hills, MI. He was born in Seoul and moved to Philadelphia in 2010, where he studied fine art and woodworking. He then moved to Bloomfield Hills to attend Cranbrook Academy of Art and received an MFA in 3D Design in 2020. He takes inspiration from nature, man-made structures, and fantasy while playing with the boundaries between form and function. Bae grew up in a house full of Suseok. Suseok is a Korean traditional form of art centered around collecting stones, which his grandfather avidly practiced. He remembers the visceral feeling of the stones and how they were both comforting and inspired his imagination. As a son of an architect/ engineer, he appreciates the collective human mind that allows us to create great man-made structures. With these legacies, many of his works explore the emotional response to nature, fantasy, and the beauty of human reason.

Nick Flaherty is a woodworker, woodturner and carpenter living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He attended the fine woodworking program at Bucks County Community College before receiving his BFA from the University of the Arts in 2019. He has received numerous Windgate Foundation awards and scholarships and has participated in residencies at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts and Penland School of Crafts. He was in the midst of plotting and seamlessly executing his global takeover when the pandemic halted his plans. He currently works as a residential carpenter, incorporating his fine woodworking skills directly into clients homes.

Winter Residency Gallery Talk: Colin Pezzano

Join us for a virtual gallery talk with the inaugural Winter Residency Fellow Colin Pezzano. The residency is designed for artists in Greater Philadelphia who work in the medium of wood and is a collaboration between the Center for Art in Wood and NextFab. An exhibition of the work created over the two-month-long program will be presented at the NextFab North Philadelphia location.

Colin Pezzano

Gallery Talk with Tom Loeser and Glenn Adamson

Join us for a discussion with Artist Tom Loeser and Guest Curator Glenn Adamson on the exhibition Please, Please, Please. We’ll talk about Loeser’s imaginative approach to furniture and ponder the question: If the furniture we sit on every day were totally different, would our lives be different, too?

Tom Loeser
Glenn Adamson

Photo by: Lenore Tawney

Artist Talk with Gord Peteran

If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound? Gord thinks not.

Join us for a talk with Toronto artist Gord Peteran and hear his thoughts about art, design, craft, sculpture and furniture. While having completed hundreds of private, corporate and public commissions, he has also lectured and exhibited extensively. The Milwaukee Art Museum’s retrospective on Peteran toured nine museums across the United States. Two books have been published on his work and he is included in many private and museum collections, including University of Toronto Art Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Royal Ontario Museum. He is a professor at OCAD University in Toronto.

Gord Peteran

A Discussion with Windgate ITE Alumni

Felicia Francine Dean

Felicia Francine Dean, US & Artist Fellow, ITE 2017

Morgan Hill

Morgan Hill, US & Artist Fellow, ITE 2018

Todd Hoyer

Todd Hoyer, US & Artist Fellow, ITE 1995

Yuri Kobayashi

Yuri Kobayashi, Japan/US & Artist Fellow, ITE 2014

Hayley Smith

Hayley Smith, UK/US & Artist Fellow, ITE 1995

Jennifer-Navva Milliken

Moderator: Jennifer-Navva Milliken, Artistic Director of the Center for Art in Wood

Join us for a panel discussion featuring Windgate ITE alumni. Founded in 1995, the Windgate International Turning Exchange (ITE) is a uniquely collaborative arts residency program. For two summer months, artists and researchers from around the world live, work, ideate, and create together in the clamorous center of Philadelphia. Together, they share knowledge and skill, but also form lasting bonds that extend beyond the residency. During this tumultuous time, breakthroughs, intense bursts of creativity, material and conceptual experimentations, and collaborations occur. Significantly, this singular place-based experience engages a wide community, beyond the participating fellows—from children enjoying interactive and touchable works in the culminating exhibition of residency work, to collectors seeking to expand their art holdings.

Young Artist Speaker Series: Ellie Richards

The Center for Art in Wood is proud to present the Young Artist Speaker Series. Each semester a young artist is asked to share their work and speak about the transition from academia to becoming an independent artist. The fourth installment in the series features artist Ellie Richards and took place virtually on Wednesday, November 18, 2020. Richards discusses her experiences in developing her career, extensive travels, and the connections and relationships that are created during a residency. Ellie Richards looks to the tradition of both woodworking and the readymade to create eclectic assemblage, installation, and objects exploring intersections of labor and leisure. She has traveled extensively to investigate the role play and improvisation have on the artistic process and will be a 3 year Resident Artist at Penland School of Crafts 2020-2023.

Ellie Richards

Catland: The Soft Power of Cat Culture in Japan

You might be allergic to cats. You might not be a cat person. (Yet.) But once you've been beckoned inside, the chances are good that you'll decide to stay a while. Welcome to Catland.

Design expert, arts writer, and cat aficionado Sarah Archer has just released her latest book, Catland, an exploration into the phenomenon of Japanese cat culture. In her Wood Shed talk, Sarah will reveal the wood baskets and furniture that comprise a highly specialized material culture aimed at accommodating the cats of Japan. This is a don't-miss experience!

Sarah Archer

A Conversation with Robert Rising, aka the BlackLumberjack

The Center spent an evening with Robert Rising, aka BlackLumberjack, the founder of NYCITYSLAB and creator and host of the Instagram talk show, Conversations with BlackLumberjack. During this talk, Robert shared his woodworking journey, why he is a vegetarian, and who his favorite guest has been on his IG TV series.

Robert Rising operates NYCITYSLAB, a company dedicated to saving fallen tress and rescuing and recycling beautiful wood slabs from destruction and waste. NYCITYSLAB transforms every last piece into works of masterful craftsmanship and function for a range of clients, as well as custom-designed projects. Robert is a woodworker, environmentalist, entrepreneur, vegetarian, designer, builder, and restorer of antiques. In 2004, he set out to build his own house out of local wood. After a successful but difficult search, he decided to continue on, and help others to find quality, local wood in New York City.


Women Turn the World

On the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment, join us for a panel discussion with women who are leading the woodturning field. Panelists will discuss how the landscape of the art form is changing, share their experiences, and speak on what needs to happen to foster and support equity and inclusion in the field. Panelists: Suzanne Kahn, Merryll Saylan, Betty Scarpino, and Kim Winkle.

Artist Talk with Roy Underhill

The Center for Art in Wood hosted an artist talk with woodworking celebrity Roy Underhill. Roy Underhill is an American woodworker and television show host. Born and raised in Washington, D.C., he was the first master housewright at the Colonial Williamsburg reconstruction. Since 1979, he has been the host of the PBS series The Woodwright's Shop. Along with This Old House, which debuted the same year, it is the longest running PBS "how-to" show.

Underhill was introduced to traditional woodworking by a sister who worked at the Smithsonian Institution. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned a degree in Theater. In the early 1970s, Roy and his wife moved to Colorado to form Homestead Arts, an acting studio, and then on to a remote area of New Mexico where traditional woodworking was one of the few means of survival.

In the late 1970s, Roy moved back to North Carolina and studied at Duke University, pursuing a multi-disciplinary course of study including engineering, forestry, and history; he was subsequently awarded a Master of Forestry in 1977. At the birth of his first daughter, he approached the UNC Center for Public Television with an idea about a traditional woodworking show. Initially rejected, the idea was finally accepted; in 1979, filming began on The Woodwright's Shop at West Point on the Eno in Durham, NC. Around the same time, he also took the job as master housewright and later director of interpretive development for Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia.

Roy Underhill

More recently, Roy also works as a communications consultant. He is the author of several books, including The Woodwright's Eclectic Workshop and Woodwright's Shop: A Practical Guide to Traditional Woodcraft. In 2011 he gave a presentation at TEDx Raleigh, sharing the value of ingenuity and living in the present. Roy has started teaching traditional woodworking in a classroom environment he calls "The Woodwright's School". As of January 2014, his classroom is located in Pittsboro, NC. Many hand-tool aficionados hold Roy Underhill in extremely high regard and may refer to him as "St. Roy."

Humaira Abid

The 2019 Bob Stocksdale International Excellence in Wood Award: Humaira Abid

Join us to celebrate the fourth year of the Bob Stocksdale International Excellence in Wood Award. Supported by an anonymous donor, this award is presented annually to an emerging or mid-career artist whose work unites quality of craftsmanship and respect for material, for which renowned master woodturner Bob Stocksdale (1913–2003) is known. The 2019 recipient for the Bob Stocksdale International Excellence in Wood Award is Humaira Abid of Seattle, WA.

In commemoration of the 2019 Stocksdale Award, Emily Whitted, a current Lois F. McNeil Fellow in the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, will present a lecture on Abid and renowned master woodturner Bob Stocksdale (1913–2003). Whitted, whose research interest includes the intersections of craft, gender, and social justice, will discuss Abid's work in the context of the values embodied by Stocksdale, among them his quality of craftsmanship, respect for materials, and artistic innovation in the material of wood, as well as his commitment to pacifism.

To Understand a Tree, a Work-in-Process with Gina Siepel

What is the community of a tree? Are woodworkers part of it? What will happen if I, as a woodworker, place myself in a deeper relationship to the forest? Interdisciplinary artist and woodworker Gina Siepel discusses her ongoing work, To Understand a Tree, currently in process in the forest of western Massachusetts. To Understand a Tree is inspired by a desire to contemplate a living forest tree and its immediate habitat from the perspective of a woodworker, directly engaging both the forest ecosystem and the furniture making process. In collaboration with naturalist Kate Wellspring and others, Siepel is studying a single red oak tree, integrating artistic and scientific methodologies. Forests are complex, interconnected systems, and in that spirit, To Understand a Tree connects furniture and object making to questions of forest ecology, climate change, and resource extraction.

Gina Siepel is an interdisciplinary artist and woodworker based in Greenfield, MA. Her work explores cultural understandings of nature, gender, and American history, through the production of objects, installations, and collaborative experiments in public spaces. Past exhibitions include the DeCordova Museum, the Colby Museum of Art, Vox Populi Gallery, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Marlboro College, Smith College, Flux Factory, and the Center for Art in Wood. Gina has received funding from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Berkshire Taconic Foundation, and the Puffin Foundation, and has been an artist-in-residence at Skowhegan, Mildred's Lane, Sculpture Space, and Hewnoaks. Gina holds a BFA from the School of Art + Design at SUNY Purchase, an MFA from the Maine College of Art, and studied woodworking at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. In addition, Gina has worked extensively in the field of theatrical scenic design and construction, designing and building projects all over New York City and the northeast. Gina currently teaches studio art at Mount Holyoke College, and is a Visiting Artist at the Smith College Macleish Field Station.

Artist Talk with Erez Nevi Pana

Erez Nevi Pana takes an investigative and human-centered approach to both raw and discarded materials, excavating their properties and exposing and extracting the hidden, often toxic or destructive, byproducts of industrial manufacture. His egalitarian attitude toward materials and makers brings poetry to objects of uncanny beauty—pure collaborations between nature and culture, otherworldly but borne of the earth.

Reclaimed wood is the underlying structure for his salt objects. Nevi Pana eschews glue, sanding papers, and most varnishes, which are made from animal-based ingredients. Lathe-turned and bound, the wooden scaffolds are subjected to some of the most unique phenomena of nature.

In this don't-miss talk, Nevi Pana will share insights into his work, his thoughtful research into materials and processes, and his seminal thinking in Vegan Design as a curative approach to human-caused natural devastation.

Erez Nevi Pana

Into Her Own Panel Discussion

This panel discussion features artists Ursula von Rydingsvard and Vivian Chiu, along with Daniel Traub, the director of the film Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own; it is moderated by Jennifer-Navva Milliken, Artistic Director of the Center for Art in Wood. Join us for this candid discussion revealing von Rydingsvard's engagement with wood, the development of her sculptural process, her monumental forms, her studio practice—for which 2018 Windgate ITE Fellow Chiu worked as an assistant—and the behind-the-scenes making of the film.

Searching for Home in Philadelphia

Join us for a panel discussion with Searching for Home artist Humaira Abid, Dana Gold of Nationalities Service Center, Anne Ishii of Asian Arts Initiative, and Hazami Sayed of Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture. We'll discuss the contributions made by immigrants to the Philadelphia's rich culture, and connect to the situation faced by immigrants and refugees during COVID-19 and how the pandemic made it easy to overlook the vulnerable and unprotected.

A View From Left Field with Mark Sfirri

Summer just isn't summer without baseball! Even though we can't go to a game the Center is bringing an evening in the stands to you with artist Mark Sfirri. Sfirri will share his love of the game and how it's influenced his work. Following the talk stay for a baseball-themed happy hour where we'll share some of our favorite highlights. Get your game gear and your hot dogs and peanuts ready for this don't miss virtual event!

Mark Sfirri

Artist Talk with Dania Chelminsky

The Center for Art in Wood had a lunch break with contemporary jewelry artist Dania Chelminsky. Here Dania talk about her childhood immigration to Israel from Mexico City and how this experience turned her focus to the body and the material of wood as she pursued a career in metalsmithing.

Dania Chelminsky was born in Mexico City in 1961 and has lived in Israel since 1970. She studied sciences, metalworking, design for the performing arts; in 2018, she received her MA in Integrated Design at the Holon Institute of Technology. From 1988 to 2000, she designed jewelry at her own studio and shop in Tel Aviv. After that, she moved to a studio and started to investigate conceptual directions in the creation of jewelry.

In her work, she combines contrasting materials, mixing organic with synthetic, hard with soft, and crafted with found objects. Intrigued by the points at which these materials intersect, Chelminsky uses traditional metalsmithing techniques to emphasize moments of tension. Her juxtaposition of such disparate elements allows her to tell a story with each of her pieces, inspiring a moment of thought about the way we relate to the world that surrounds us.

Her works have been profiled in international publications such as Metalsmith, Portfolio, Domus, and Lark Books. She has exhibited her work extensively throughout the world, with multiple solo exhibitions presented at Periscope Gallery, Tel Aviv, as well as at Museo Lazaro Galdiano, Madrid. She has also participated in many group exhibitions, including the Tel Aviv Biennial, Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv; Alliages Gallery, SHMUCK, Munich, and the Alliages collection, Museum Espace Solidor, Cagnes-sur-Mer, France; the Islamic Art Museum, Jerusalem; the Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece; and Benedikt Aichele Atellier, Paris, France.

Take a Hike: A Conversation with Jim Tabor

Take a virtual trip of delight and discovery along the Appalachian Trail with woodcarver and hiker Jim Tabor. Jim will talk about his love of spoon carving, stories from the Trail, and what it means to be a "Trail Angel."

Watch more artist talks on the Center's YouTube Channel »

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