The Georgia Museum of Art is displaying until Aug. 7 a collection of tabletop sculptures made from trees in the exhibition Turned and Sculpted: Wood Art from the Collection of Arthur and Jane Mason.
The exhibition features 30 objects, all made entirely of sculpted wood, by some of the most renowned contemporary artists in the form. Although many of the forms were inspired by functional usage, they go beyond being bowls or vases, taking inspiration from their origins. The word “turned” in the title of the exhibition reflects the fact that many of the artists used a lathe to sculpt the wood, rotating the material on its axis to create a symmetrical, rounded form.
“It fascinates me to see craft transcend utilitarian needs,” said Dale Couch, the museum’s curator of decorative arts, who organized the exhibition. “These pieces represent a meld of technical virtuosity, aesthetic sensibility and respect for the medium of wood itself.”
Couch also said that the breadth of the artists represented is part of what makes this collection special. The exhibition will function almost as an encyclopedia of great American woodturners and sculptors, including Georgia’s renowned Moulthrop family: father Ed, son Philip and grandson Matt, who is a UGA alumnus.
Other featured artists include Garry Knox Bennett, David Ellsworth, Mark and Mel Lindquist, Todd Hoyer, Bob Stocksdale, Michael Peterson, Merryll Saylan and Marilyn Campbell. Objects range from the relatively traditional turned bowls of the Moulthrops to Robyn Horn’s geometric sculpture, Rod Cronkite’s topographic forms and Todd Hoyer’s works that use burning and distressing for symbolic reasons.
Collectors Arthur and Jane Mason crafted this collection for decades before donating it to the museum. The gift has taken the museum’s holdings from almost nonexistent in this medium to nearly comprehensive, as was the Masons’ intent. A fully illustrated book, published by the museum, will accompany the exhibition.
The Collectors of Wood Art, an organization that connects collectors and artists, will hold its annual forum June 7-9, beginning in Athens, with “A Day of Wood Art Celebration at the Georgia Museum of Art” June 8, including lectures, panel discussions, a reception and an opportunity to meet the artists represented in the Masons’ collection. The cost is $220 for CWA members, $295 for nonmembers, which includes meals and transportation to all events, including June 9 in Atlanta. For more information, visit http://collectorsofwoodart.org/news/detail/952.