Mozark Mountain Works
All of the bowls come from damaged trees. An enormous lightning struck tulip poplar that stood rotting for years near the house; a lightning struck walnut that I took down years ago near the shop; an ancient cherry from way up at the top of our property, lightning struck and collapsing under the weight of age; and finally, a previously storm wracked maple on our neighbor’s farm that succumbed to high wind this past summer. This is not uncommon. In furniture making and woodturning, diseased, damaged and partially rotten wood is highly prized for extraordinary grain, sheen, pattern and texture.
On the other hand most of the wood in these bowls was very difficult, which was not a conscious decision, but looking back, was what interested me. For example, the poplar was so rotten that it had to be stabilized with shellac to keep it from falling apart, and the lightning struck trees so riddled with splits and fissures they often threatened to fly apart on the lathe.
As a sculptor I come at bowl turning somewhat obliquely. Art making is to some degree a constant battle with seduction, the struggles with the sensuous beauty of medium, the sheer seduction of making things, and how those things fall into the stream of similar things, are key sources of the tension that we hope creates depth in the work. Bowls and baskets (along with bridges) hold a significant resonance for sculptors. They are pure examples of positive space enfolding negative, form following function, and also form a natural unbroken thread through art history, archeology and anthropology. I’m not suggesting some sort of esoteric study of the bowl form in history here, I’m just making bowls, and very new to it as well. But the manner in which the foot of a vessel anchors it, and the rim opens it to space, and how that tension is a common thread across pottery making cultures, is very much a part of my awareness.
However, with all that being said, conceptual “Archeology” has much less to do with old baskets and pottery, and much more to do with the happy activity of finding a bowl in the chunk of wood on the lathe. The unturned bowl is full of undiscovered promise, and you delve into the wood to find a form that makes sense in that block and with what you know or think you know. If you delve deeper, you find a different bowl. The hope here is that I’ve avoided enough of the seduction that the work is both beautiful and evocative.