Mykola Kulishov

Mykola Kulishov


Mykola Kulishov, born in Ukraine and a graduate of Kyiv National Shevchenko University with a PhD in Photonics from the Institute of Cybernetics of Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, began woodworking in his homeland, influenced by traditional Ukrainian woodcarving techniques. After relocating to Montreal, he embraced power tools, enhancing his craft. Inspired by photonics and nature, Mykola creates intricately carved bowls from single pieces of green wood, exploring paradoxical themes like contemporary versus traditional, lightness versus mass, and fluidity within solidity. His work, which transforms wood into gravity-defying forms, reflects his deep appreciation for organic beauty and is designed to integrate seamlessly into larger environments, showcasing his focused creativity.

Wood carving has since become my creative sanctuary.

How did you get into working with wood?

I was born in Ukraine and graduated from Kyiv Shevchenko University with an M.S. degree in Radio-Physics. For 18 years, I worked at the Institute of Cybernetics, National Academy of Sciences in Kyiv, where I earned a Ph.D. degree in Optoelectronics. In 1994, I immigrated to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where I worked in the high-tech industry as R&D Director, supervising a photonics research project in collaboration with local universities. In 2006, I joined a US company in San Jose, California, first as Business Development Director and later as Vice President of Operations. In my final two years, I worked as a sales engineer, selling semiconductor light sources and optical amplifiers. Throughout my career as a researcher, I authored over 50 papers in peer-reviewed journals, three book chapters, and secured two US Patents. I retired in 2023.

During my time in Ukraine, I also studied traditional wood carving, particularly in the West-Ukrainian (Carpathian) region, renowned for its master wood carvers. Soon after, wood sculpture became my hobby, and I developed my own designs for wooden bowls and vases, refining both designs and skills over many years. Wood carving has since become my creative sanctuary.

What inspires your creations?

Most of my sculptures are inspired by the mathematical freedom of non-orientable topological surfaces, whose handle-loops evoke Möbius strips—single-sided surfaces without boundaries. Their precise fluidity is both an artistic reverie and a mathematical feat.

My works explore the beauty and character inherent in wood, often influenced by environmental conditions during the tree's growth and wood storage. In this regard, wood is akin to a person: stress and living conditions contribute to developing interesting character in both. Much of the wood used in my sculptures is salvaged, repurposed from fallen trees in the Bay Area, granting them a second life in a new form.

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Mykola's art explores the beauty and character that exists in wood, often as a result of environmental conditions.

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"Spiral Galaxy" - A one of a kind piece, hand carved bowl from a single log of pear tree wood.

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Every detail of his work is carefully sculpted, allowing the viewer to appreciate the graceful curves, intricate textures, and lifelike forms that adorn these sculptures.

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Mykola's art has been exhibited in San Francisco, Kyiv, Palo Alto, and other cities across California, Canada, and Ukraine, blending his professional background into his sculptures as a true artist.

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Much of the wood in his sculptures is salvaged from felled trees, given a second life in new forms.

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"Triple Integral" - One of a kind, hand carved bowl from a single log of black walnut tree with leather laces.

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ChatGPT During Mykola Kulishov's time in Ukraine, he studied traditional wood carving, focusing on the West-Ukrainian (Carpathian) region, known for its skilled master wood carvers.

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ChatGPT He meticulously crafts his sculptures to highlight graceful curves, intricate textures, and lifelike forms, infused with rich, warm wood tones that bring tranquility and connection to any spa

What would you tell your younger self?

When I was younger, all my activities were focused on my professional work, with woodworking just a pure hobby. I did not make any efforts to advertise my artworks or promote myself as an artist within the local community and beyond. Until recently, I had never applied to participate in exhibitions, art fairs, or festivals. Upon retiring and deciding to further my artistic pursuits, I realized that I was significantly behind and that achieving recognition would require considerable time and effort. Therefore, my advice to my younger self would be to integrate my professional work with artistic endeavors.

What is your favourite Arbortech tool and why?

I use Arbortech Power Chisel, Mini Carver, Mini TURBO Kit for my work. I like the Power Chisel very much as it is quite a powerful tool and it is very complementary to a smaller Merlin Grinder when I need to do a more accurate shaping.

If you were a type of wood what would you be and why?

I specialise in working with large pieces of green wood that are prone to developing cracks. In fact, I created a unique process that's specifically designed to keep the wet wood from cracking while I'm carving it. An additional distinctive aspect of my work is that every bowl or vase comes from a single piece of wood. To make carving more efficient, I developed techniques for removing wood from tricky spots that are hard to reach. Then, I make sure to smooth and polish these areas really well.

To learn more about Mykola, follow the links below.

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