December 2, 2023 – January 20, 2024
Mark Sfirri, the 2008 curator of Across the Grain - A Regional Wood Exhibition, returns to WAC to curate InGrained – An Exhibition of Pennsylvania Furniture, Sculpture and Woodturning, the 2023 CraftForms' companion show. In addition to being a furniture maker and sculptor working in wood, Sfirri is also a teacher, researcher, writer, collaborator, photographer, and printmaker.
Curator's Statement: Mark Sfirri
InGrained: Furniture, Sculpture, and Woodturning by Pennsylvania Artists
I curated a show for the Wayne Art Center, displaying work by 23 regional makers, called “Across the Grain,” as a companion piece for CraftForms 2008. I’ve been invited back to curate this year’s “InGrained” exhibition. When Mira Nakashima responded to my invitation, she said, “Are you going Across or Against the Grain? Be glad to participate, either way!” I decided that we had gone across it in 2008, and that it was time now to get into it.
A lot has changed in the wood world in the past 15 years and that is reflected in this new lineup of makers. Some of these artists are new, and some are established makers whom I’ve only learned of more recently. Seventeen of the invitees were not in the 2008 exhibition.
Mira Nakashima, from New Hope, is back, as is the work of her father, George, and the work of Wharton Esherick of Paoli. This year we lost an important furniture maker, Alphonse Mattia, from Philadelphia. His groundbreaking work began in the late 1960s, and he taught at numerous institutions throughout the U.S., including Boston University’s Program in Artisanry and Rhode Island School of Design. He was inspired by Wharton Esherick, and, in turn, Mattia has inspired new generations of makers throughout his own career.
I’ve been asked, and I am curious myself, why there is so much talent in the medium of wood in the Philadelphia area. Certainly, there is a regional tradition of furniture-making that dates back centuries. The Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Craft Show have long supported the craft community. There are woodworking programs at the University of the Arts and Bucks County Community College (where I taught for 36 years). The Museum for Art in Wood in Philadelphia has regular wood exhibitions and a stunning permanent collection. The James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown is making a clear decision in favor of craft in their collecting. And since 1994, the Wayne Art Center has staged annual juried craft exhibitions. All of these factors must have contributed to the richness of wood art in this region. It’s great to be a part of this exhibition and I hope that you enjoy what we’ve put together.
A special thank you to the Museum for Art in Wood, the Wharton Esherick Museum, Kathy Hiban, Isabel Mattia, and Dan Zobel for loaning pieces for this exhibition.
Don R. Miller
Keun Ho Peter Park