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.

Explore Artist Talks

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.

BlackLumberjack








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 »

Support Your Favorite Programming at the Center



The Center for Art in Wood is able to provide an impressive array of programs and services thanks to support from our patrons. Please consider making a donation to help us continue great programs like our Artist Talks Series.


Make a Donation

Center for Art in Wood