How did you get into working with wood?
I was studying Political Science at Virginia Commonwealth University and needed to take an art class. I chose to take a class in Woodworking & Furniture Design. I soon fell in love with this creative field, taking more classes, learning skills and techniques and developing my voice as an artist.
Do you have an official qualification for what you do now?
I went on to get a Master’s degree in Industrial Design and Furniture from the Rhode Island School of Design. I am currently a full-time professor teaching Woodworking and Furniture Design in the School for American Crafts, at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
What inspires your creations?
I look for inspiration everywhere but am increasingly inspired by the natural world. I see beauty in many organic forms from plants to animals. I also get great inspiration from the art world, and love artists such as Constantine Brancusi, Paul Klee, Isamu Noguchi, Alexander Calder, and Martin Puryear, to name a few. I also love to study American folk art as well as African and Oceanic artwork. When I look at this work what I love is to see the creative thought process and the unique interpretations and handprint in the making of objects.
What would you tell your younger self starting out on your artistic journey?
Go for it and stay in the game! Look everywhere for inspiration. Nothing learned is a waste of time, even if you change directions. Walking, like the creative process, is a combination of losing balance, then regaining balance. In order to move forward, one needs to lose balance and trust that this balance can be regained. And if you fall, chances are you will fall forward.
Do you sell your work?
Yes, I have sold my work in galleries throughout the USA and exhibited work in galleries and museums in the USA, Canada, Australia, and Germany.
What is your favourite Arbortech tool and why?
I really love the control of the TURBOPlane. It is fantastic for fast wood removal, but also gives you great control with lighter shaping. I am also enjoying the Ball Gouge for dishing out surfaces, it is a really cool idea.
If you were a type of wood what would you be and why?
Really? Jeez… I guess I would want to be a Silver Birch. Birch trees are a really useful timber. The grain is light and wonderful to carve. The bark and roots can be used in many ways as well. Birch trees are also bright, tall and beautiful. They are highly adaptive to their environment and can sustain harsh conditions and grow in many locations. They often are the first to repopulate damaged areas of forest making them a symbol of renewal.
How do you like to spend your time when you are not working with wood?
When I am not working in the shop or teaching woodworking and Furniture design, I have a number of interests. In the winter in upstate New York, it can be cold and snowy. I enjoy Alpine and Nordic skiing and getting out in the snow. I also really enjoy baking bread and cooking. During the warmer months I love to get out in the garden and grow veggies and work outside. I am also a music lover and appreciate many styles of music, and sitting back and playing my guitar. Mostly though, I enjoy spending time with my wife and son.