Week 2: Cabinets of Curiosity

Text and sketches by Sketch Artist Amy Forsyth

No sooner had we returned from Echo Lake than it was time to pull our postcard together for our upcoming exhibition.  The only problem was that we haven’t really had enough time to finish anything (or maybe even start anything?) to photograph for the card. Drawing to the rescue! I suggested that I sketch everyone with an object that is representative of what they plan to work on for the next weeks. And so… here’s the sketch of us that our genius graphic designer is in the process of turning into our publicity for the exhibition and also our open studio day on July 13th.

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The drawing for our postcard.  From left to right, John-Duane Kingsley (our scholar, who will arrive for a week in July), Jacob, with a multi-material turning, Ellie, with some brightly colored wood slats that she’s glued together, Josh, with one of his one-day sculpture projects, Per, with some wood strips he’s experimenting with using steam bending, Heide, with a bent wood experiment, Hartmut, with his giant octopus tentacles emerging from behind him, and me, with my ever present sketchbook.

Per, our Swedish resident, invited us to a Midsummer dinner he prepared, as best he could, from food found in our local supermarkets. We feasted on three different kinds of pickled herring, which were tasty with sour cream and potatoes, along with more familiar foods such as smoked salmon, roasted potatoes, salad, shrimp, and a cheese platter.  The main dish is called Jansson’s Temptation, and was made of potatoes, onions, and anchovies, and served with asparagus.  We washed it all down with beer and vodka, since akvavit was not available. Heide provided some twinkle lights for mood, and there was much merriment.

One of the most exciting events of this residency is the opportunity to visit collectors and see the amazing things they’ve accumulated over the years. Many of these collectors are in the Washington, DC area, and so we were able to combine a whirlwind tour of our nation’s Capital with a visit to several collectors and friends of wood art.

We were treated to lunches, dinners, snacks, as well as food for the mind, as the collectors and wood aficionados are all extremely knowledgable and passionate about their objects and spaces.

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We drove through some rainstorms, Josh at the wheel, and arrived at our first stop, A Workshop of Our Own (WOO) in Baltimore, around dinner time. Here is WOO’s mission statement:

WOO’s mission is to create a professional woodworking environment which cultivates and promotes the careers of women and gender non-conforming craftspeople in our field. In doing so we aim to:

AMPLIFY OUR VOICES

BE A COLLABORATIVE SPACE FOR PROFESSIONALS

TRAIN ALL SKILL LEVELS IN A SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT

PROVIDE APPRENTICESHIP OPPORTUNITIES

We had a tour of their facilities, and they generously provided pizza, salads, and lots of other treats for dinner, which we ate with the staff and volunteers in their outdoor picnic space between the building and the stream.  Tucked between a stream and the light rail line, their industrial site is an urban oasis, shared with other artist run venues.

Some pictures from WOO:

We then went on to our hotel in Bethesda, strategically located within a few miles of nearly all of the collectors.

Our schedule was jam packed, and very specific on timing, precise in scheduling, and had clearly been arranged by someone who knew what they were doing. We found out later that our last host, Judy, a physician and docent at the Renwick, among other impressive activities, had arranged this for us.  For the sake of the privacy of the collectors, I will not identify them. But let it suffice to say that we were overwhelmed with the quality of the objects we were invited to explore, guided by our hosts.  None of us are wood turners, which had been the original focus of this residency, but we all marveled at the craftsmanship and beauty of the turned objects we were invited to hold in our hands, and we also were thrilled to see pieces of furniture that we’d previously only seen in magazines or publications of The Furniture Society.  We also visited with some local wood artists and the Director of the Renwick Alliance at Barbara Wolanin’s house.  The ITE residents had stayed there in previous years, when Barbara’s husband, Phil Brown, used to organize this trip.  Although he passed away about a year ago, his memory is being honored by many of those whose lives he touched.  We left there with some of his rough turned bowl blanks that will become an art project. There were several more visits that day, and we were intrigued to see how different collections can be, from those who have a wide range of interests to those who are fascinated primarily by one material (wood) and all the myriad things one can do with it. We were treated to lunches and dinners and thoroughly spoiled throughout the trip.

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Some drawings of some of the wonderful things (and people!) we saw on our trip.

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We had a few hours between visits to stop in Washington, DC to visit the Renwick, where we saw examples of their permanent collection, and we also managed to get to the Washington Monument and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, where there was a retrospective of wood artist Ursula von Rydingsvard, whom we all admired.  There were some other outdoor wood sculptures by Foon Sham, but we only found one of them. Our last stop was at Jeff and Judy’s, where we had a delicious dinner along with a master class in wood art, much of it masterfully turned on the lathe and then often shaped and carved.  There were also beautiful baskets, and assorted other gorgeous objects. We headed back to Philadelphia after dessert, and fell into our beds around midnight, our heads full of images and ideas.  Thank you to all our generous hosts!

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Some more of the amazing objects we saw on our trip

Some pictures from the collections:

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And now, to work!

Week 1: Introductions and Collaborations

Sketches and text by 2019 ITE “photojournalist” Amy Forsyth

The first week of our residency is coming to a close. On Day 1, we were given a tour of the wood shop by shop guru extraordinaire, Tara, whose benevolent presence provides advice and some materials for our projects, keeps the machines running smoothly, answers questions, impossible and otherwise, and is helpful in every possible way. Don Miller, the Wood Coordinator at University of the Arts (and maker of exquisitely crafted objects, such as guitars) was on hand to greet us, as well. Then, we located the shared van that we have for our shared use during the residency, and piled in for a quick drive to the Center for Art in Wood. There, we met all the staff whose emails we’ve been receiving for several months, including Jennifer Navva Milliken, the Artistic Director, new at this position since my previous residency in 2016.  We saw the current exhibition and the permanent collection, were treated to a delicious Filipino lunch, and then got acquainted by showing slides of our work.

Day 1 presentation

First Day at the Center for Art in Wood. Presentations by the residents.

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My sketches and notes on some of the residents’ work

Everyone was anxious to get set up and started, since we were scheduled to uproot for the weekend to participate in the Echo Lake Collaboration at Bucks County Community College. Here are some sketches of beginnings. I went to the Center for Art in Wood to get started on this blog.

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Per making sketches, evidence of Josh and Hartmut’s first evening in the shop

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Ellie assembling some pieces she’d brought, and a fellow diner at a local ramen and sushi lunch place, Tomo, near the Center for Art in Wood.

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Some sketches of pieces in the permanent collection at the CAW, and a sketch of the delicious smelling basswood/linden trees blooming on Spruce Street

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A quick breakfast sketch of the beautiful mug I bought from the Clay Studio and a view from the skylight in my room, plus more sketches of quick studies by Josh, Jake, and Hartmut, who is making a series of small carvings he’s calling, “My Diary in Wood.”

Echo Lake! First, we drove to New Hope, PA to look at the 20th Anniversary Exhibition of the Echo Lake Conference, which is a gathering of makers who assemble for a long weekend every June to make things together. Wood turners, wood workers, metal workers, painters, jewelry makers, printmakers, etc. assemble and see what happens when they make quick, improvisational pieces of art work together, and then auction the work off at the end to raise money for scholarships and to do it again the following year.  The ITE residents have traditionally been a part of this. We were early, so we wandered down to the Landing and had drinks by the river before returning to New Hope Arts, the gallery that was hosting the exhibition, which was full of the best of the collaborative pieces made at the gathering over the past 20 years. All this years’ collaborators assembled there and each had submitted three images of their work. We looked at all of those, then drove to the VRBO that Ellie had rented for us for the weekend.  It was charming, only 5 minutes from the conference, and on a wooded lot with a porch overlooking a grassy yard.

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Sunny mornings on the porch with coffee and breakfast to wake up

The only problem was that there weren’t enough beds, so Josh, Hartmut, and Jake slept on various couches and cushions.

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Here’s Josh on two couches pushed together.

Nevertheless, every morning, we were among the first to arrive and start work, and everyone became absorbed in  many interesting projects.  Ellie and Josh teamed up with several other artists to make a remarkable croquet set. Ellie and Heide and Jake made swings with a few other collaborators. Hartmut’s carvings appeared in many places, including an award given to one of the key organizers of Echo Lake, John Mathews, the Dean of Arts at Bucks, who is also a metal worker, who, when not in the metal shop, was dashing about and making things happen the entire time we were there. Among other things, Per created a beautiful carved form that he finished by singeing it black, and someone gold leafed a knot in the center of the wood. I worked on multiple things myself; a dovetailed drawer with Tib Shaw, a first time participant, who is the Curator at the American Association of Woodturners, a jacket that Suzanne Kahn initiated, which was the first Echo Lake garment, a couple of drawings, a carved leaf for a giant bouquet of wooden “flowers,” and a block print. It’s astonishing how many things 60 artists can create in three days, they were up to 90 for the auction shortly before the deadline.

melissa and graeham

Melissa Engler and Graeme Priddle, working out a Maori design for a picture frame. Fortunately, they were the winning bidders for this drawing.

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I tried to capture the spirit of Echo Lake in this sketch.  The “resource table” of many varied objects for transformation, and the frenzied work amidst the objects handed off and piling up. Jokes and silliness abound, and camaraderie. Many of the participants have been involved for all 20 years.

echo auctionThe auction took place in a different building and drew collectors who were happy to pay several hundred dollars for pieces by multiple artists, some of whose work is difficult to obtain, otherwise. After the auction, Josh took the wheel and drove us back to UArts, where we are now beginning our second week. We hope to get some work done in the shop before leaving for the weekend trip to visit collectors and museums in Washington, DC.

Hi Ellie here with a few pics from Echo Lake ~~~

First Days of the 2019 ITE

Hello from Philadelphia! The 2019 residents have touched down, moved in, and started working! I am Amy Forsyth, this year’s “photojournalist.”

You’ll see that this year’s documentation is a bit different, since I proposed to draw everything instead of photograph it this year. Known as “reportage,” these drawings will clearly acknowledge my own interpretation as the lens through which the residency will be viewed. We’ve become used to the fallacy that photography is objective, and by returning to drawing as my medium of communication, I’m making it clear that these ideas and images are subjective. The other residents also have the option to write and provide images on this blog, as well, but it’s my main responsibility during the residency. Before we arrived, I looked up the other residents on the internet and did portraits of them, just to see how different the drawings will be of people I’ve never met, as opposed to what they’ll be like once we’ve all lived and worked together for two months. The following drawings are the ones that I did before meeting the other residents.  I used several different media, in part because of projected personalities and also because I like the variety of effects. Here’s an introduction to this year’s residents.

Per portrait

Per Brandstedt, Artist, Sweden

Heide portrait

Heide Martin, Artist, Maine, USA

Hartmut portrait

Hartmut Rademann, Artist, Germany

Ellie portrait

Ellie Richards, Artist, North Carolina, USA

Josh portrait

Joshua Enck, Artist, New York, USA

Jacob portrait

Jacob Zimmerman, Student Artist, Delaware, USA

Amy portrait

Amy Forsyth, “Photojournalist,” Pennsylvania, USA

John Duane portrait

John-Duane Kingsley, Scholar, Michigan, USA

Stay tuned for more drawings! We’re all excited to begin! Amy Forsyth

Hi! Ellie here..

Going to supplement Amy’s wonderfully thoughtful posts with some images I’ve taken from our ITE experience!  Let’s start with the woodshop! and our pretty pink bandsaw!

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