In 2008 I was fortunate enough to have the experience of a residency at The Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, Maine. I was interested in exploring some new directions with my work and hoped the experience would help me do so. One of my focuses was to strip things down to their bare essence; to eliminate anything that did not support the intent of the piece.
The surroundings became clues and inspirations for forms, spaces, and atmospheres. Coming from the Taos, New Mexico desert the ocean, boats, and their relationship to land and space, stood out in my mind because of their familiarity and differences to my usual landscape. Various things started to strike me such as the masts on boats and how they mark a place and space but also aim and lead up to the skies; how boats became resting spaces in the void of water; how the boat buoys began to define spaces in the vast ocean. At the same time, while working in a studio of other makers that were generally more interested in traditional forms of furniture making, made me want to oppose that very format. I wanted to speak of things beyond the form of the piece; decoration was not what I was interested in.
I had a lot of reflective time since I was away from my usual business duties and routines. I was thinking about our existence on this planet and the passing of peoples’ lives, and how an empty space is left when they are gone and how their memories live on in our minds. How would I best represent these thoughts? How could I mark the mental space that they exist in and from which they transition onward? I wanted both an object to reflect upon, but also a place and space to be in to do so. This Memorial Bench is that answer for me.
Naturally I would use wood because it is the medium that I am versed in and I can easily manipulate the material to express my thoughts in a fluid manner. But specifically to this piece, the processes such as machining, bending, carving, shaping, all end up containing the energies that are put into them; a history of the processes and interaction. It becomes contained energy that creates a vitality within the forms. I find great joy in this.
My hope is that the experience of this piece would be a reflective one; silent yet thoughtful. It’s not my character to preach or dictate to people so therefore I’m not interested in one-liners or defined statements, I’m interested in objects that resonate through reference. Reference to objects and memories in our lives and experiences that had impact on us and have left an imprint. Maybe something primal, maybe something recent, but something that touched us deeply and memorably. Maybe these relationships are understandable or maybe not, that is not important. What is important is the moment of silent reflection that I hope to bring about.