SPEAKING IN SPECIES (June 14 - August 19, 2013)
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Guest curator Brent Skidmore has selected 26 artists working in wood whose pieces range from the narrative and sculptural to strictly functional. The works, many of which will be seen in the Triad for the first time, not only employ traditional techniques but also the newest technologies available by seasoned makers and the next generation of makers. CLICK HERE to purchase the exhibition catalogue.

Exhibiting Artists

Chris Abell

Fatie Atkinson

Elia Bizzarri

David Caldwell

John Clark

Melissa Engler

Dustin Farnsworth

Brian Fireman

Russell F. Gale, Jr.

Mark Gardner

Derek Hennigar

Robyn Horn

Stoney Lamar

Timothy Maddox

David Merrifield

Brad Reed Nelson

George Peterson

Richard Prisco

Nathan Rose

Sylvie Rosenthal

Tom Shields

Al Spicer

Elizabeth Spotswood Spencer

Joël Urruty

Michael Royce Waldeck

Robert Winkler 



To speak, in a formal sense, means to “give evidence or make comment on a subject.”  In this incidence of speaking the clarity lies within the command of many species from the exoticism of Black Limba to the banality of plywood. In Speaking in Species: A North Carolina Perspective, this command of subject takes form in a host of objects including tables, chairs, sculptures and the highest quality musical instruments. 

The full range of speaking in species can be seen in the countless items crafted from wood around us. From cradle to grave, we interact, own and even inhabit things made of wood. From early on, we might encounter bassinets, spoons, bowls, ladles, beds, brooms, shoes, boats, flying machines, and even walk bridges to houses in which we live before finally being buried in a wooden box under a tree. This list is meant to be a little extreme to bring home the vast array of wooden objects on our planet, mostly taken for granted in these days of mass consumerism. Since we stumbled out of the cave and began to wander, wood has been essential to our existence and advancement. It was kindling, of course, that enabled humankind to harness fire. Wood is ubiquitous, common and simultaneously complex. This broad range of abilities inspires the makers in this exhibition to create from wood.

Speaking in Speciesa North Carolina Perspective, centers on a presentation and understanding of the talents of those employing wood in their work. The vast majority of these makers work fulltime at their craft and play a part in our creative economy, making some of the most unique items known in the worlds of studio furniture, art and instrument making. Members of this group are known well beyond our state borders, some for building upon centuries-old traditions such as Elia Bizzarri or like Dustin Farnsworth, known for expanding wood’s sculptural vocabulary.

The artists in Speaking in Species are craftsmen working at the highest possible levels of accuracy in wood and those who understand the fluidity, rawness and associated chance relating to processes in wood. Within the work of Chris Abell, John Clark and Russell Gale we see accuracy and tolerances that are simultaneously discomfiting and inspiring, evoking high regard and reverence. These are works that define what we think of as fine craftsmanship and top-notch woodworking.

Within the exhibition we also see examples of what I call “moments with the wood”; a way of being and the associated chance of process. This isn’t to say that any of these artists are getting messages from the trees, but rather they move in an intuitive dance, carving a large log or constructing piles of small sticks.  There is usually a plan or concept that is balanced with a sense of wonder and understanding for the openness of the process and materials. These moments add up to some of the most expressive sculptures in the exhibition, including the works of Elizabeth Spotswood Spencer, Mark Gardner and Sylvie Rosenthal.

Let’s not forget the likely unity of this group. With wood, whether your approach is one of precision machining and control or the openness and intuitive process associated with a chainsaw or a grinder, wood is responsive, immediate and rewarding to work. Imagine the smells and tactile experience in the studios of these makers -- I suspect you would encounter spaces that can open to the outside, some very clean and some considerably more cluttered, but with all of these makers you would encounter a sanctum of sorts, a place of transformation, both for wood and self.  Wood allows these artists to speak clearly and distinctly because it is natural, earthbound and alive in ways that conjure up countless moments in nature that are, in turn, rejuvenating both to maker and user/viewer. May you, as you view the exhibition, be intrigued, restored and inspired to Speak in Species.

CLICK HERE for Press Release

CLICK HERE for online catalogue