Our Marketing & Design Intern, Hannah Gray, had the opportunity to talk with some of our Speaking in Species artists. In this Q&A, Hannah learns how sustainability and functionality play into artist Michael Royce Waldeck's work.
How do the different species of wood influence your final piece? From where do you gather your source materials?
Species selection is a huge consideration for any maker. This choice not only determines the appearance and tone of a piece, but also its functionality and longevity. Many of my projects start from an idea sparked by the characteristics of a single piece of wood, and all of the other structural and aesthetic considerations follow from there. When available, I look for repurposed lumber- wood that was maybe used for something else in a former life or a tree that had to be removed from an urban environment. At the end of the day, however, I am happy to get a nice bit of timber from just about anywhere.
What was the first artwork/piece of furniture you created? How has your work changed since then?
When I was 19 I made a floor lamp out of pine. Other than pine-wood derby cars from elementary school, this was my first endeavor working with wood. I continue to make lighted elements, but the lamps that I build now are certainly more sophisticated. The overall effect and warmth, however, of combining light and wood remain the same.
What inspires you?
The wonders within the ordinary continue to inspire me.
How do your own experiences influence the work that you make?
I started thinking about woodworking while studying environmental science in college. The disposability of everyday goods saddened me, and I wanted to be a part of something more mindful of sustainability. One of the joys of making things with wood is that much of the waste can be used for something else, whether that is smaller wooden items or just fuel for heating or cooking. I now endeavor to build things that will hold up over time and at best, become more enjoyable to live with as the piece ages.
Does functionality or aesthetics play a more important role in your work?
I think both art and craft are essential to our existence, but I personally prefer making things that will be used. As I build a piece of furniture, I enjoy thinking about the ways in which someone will interact with this thing during its lifetime. I try to add small details to each element of a piece that will continue to surprise and please its user. My aesthetic sense is mostly concerned with solid proportions and well-executed, simple lines. My goal is always to create something can be lived with well and possibly bring a greater depth to someone’s everyday experience.
Anything else you'd like to add?
It is a real pleasure to a part of this exhibition.