Center for Art in Wood presents new exhibition ‘Vessels: Embodiment, Autonomy, and Ornament in Wood’

-Courtesy of En Route Marketing
feature photo from artist Sylvie Rosenthal by Jim Escalante

On November 4, the Center for Art in Wood (141 N 3rd St,  Philadelphia, PA 19106) will launch its fall exhibition, Vessels: Embodiment, Autonomy, and Ornament in Wood (Vessels), which features 26 works by 16 international wood-based artists. One of the most  fundamental forms of craft, vessels have assumed many forms – bowls, spoons, vases, and crucibles, for  example – and facilitated human survival, industry, and legend throughout history. Connecting to the  Center’s origins as an advocate for art in woodturning, the exhibition examines the vessel as a source of  inspiration for artists working in wood and will be on display through February 12, 2023. 

“The vessel is the basis for models that help us make sense of the universe and our place in it,” said Jennifer-Navva Milliken, Center for Art in Wood’s Executive Director and Chief Curator. “The hefty cultural importance of this simple but essential form challenges us to reflect on its place in our contemporary existence. The works in this exhibition help us spiritually transcend the day-to-day, make new connections, and consider how to assert our independence and freedom from oppression.” 

The Center’s latest exhibition is curated by Milliken and explores how vessels have been used as a vital tool for survival and for understanding the universe and the afterlife. The vessel can be viewed as a metaphysical device that carries the soul or as a metaphor for understanding autonomy, power, and agency over one’s body. The works demonstrate the breadth of beauty, empowerment, subversion, and spiritual awareness inspired by the act of containment and the vessel form. Vessels also offers visitors insights into how the wood material informed the artists and what drew them toward the pleasing roundness of the turned form or the ability to manipulate and adorn its surface. 

The works on loan for the exhibition include a stunning large-scale piece titled “Sycamore Story 2021” by New Jersey-based sculptor and furniture maker Jack Larimore and the surreal self-portrait sculptures by Los Angeles-born artist Vivian Chiu. The show also incorporates several captivating works from the Center’s permanent collection, including intricate wood-lathe vases by Vermont woodturner Michelle Holzapfel and an elegant woven basket from Finnish visual artist Markku Kosonen. Vessels features additional works from renowned wood artists Humaira Abid, Michael Bauermeister, Miriam Carpenter, Kyle Cottier, Alison Croney Moses, Frank E. Cummings III, Aaron Haba, Dierra Jones, Maria van Kesteren, Sylvie Rosenthal, David Sengel, and Lynne Yamaguchi. 

Vessels: Embodiment, Autonomy, and Ornament in Wood is generously supported by the Cambium Circle Members of the Center for Art in Wood, the Bresler Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and the Windgate Foundation. In-kind support was provided by Boomerang, Inc. and Sunlite Corporation.

About the Center for Art in Wood: 
The Center for Art in Wood interprets, nurtures, and champions creative engagement and expansion of art, craft, and design in wood to enhance the public’s understanding and appreciation of it. Founded and sited in Philadelphia, the Center for Art in Wood serves a local and international community. It has built its reputation by providing opportunities for makers and visitors to experience craft directly, through participatory programming; seminal exhibitions and documentation; and the growth, conservation, exhibition, and care of its permanent collection. The Center’s practice of keeping these resources free and available to the public emphasizes its commitment to building a democratic and inclusive community. Visit to learn more.

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