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Digging Into to All Things Wood with the Museum of Art and Design

A new exhibit at the Museum of Arts & Design celebrates an enduring medium. Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design brings together 90 works from 57 artists, designers and craftsmen who work with wood. Examining contemporary methods of woodworking and the relationship between function and form, many of the pieces challenge preconceived notions of the ubiquitous material.

Inspired by bird nests, artist Nina Bruun used curled strips of birch to mimick the organized chaos of a bird’s home in her Nest chair. Birch, textile, foam, 2010. Courtesy of the artist, photo by Adam Dyrvig Tatt.

Curated by Lowery Stokes Sims, with assistance from Elizabeth Edwards Kirrane, Against the Grain features new works by Marc Andre Robinson, Sarah Oppenheimer, Martin Puryear, Alison Elizabeth Taylor, and Joseph Walsh, and recent works from Ursula von Rydingsvard and Sebastian Errazuriz. Sims hopes the exhibit reveals new potential for wood through the artists’ individual approaches to the tried and true medium.

A seemingly primitive material in use since time immemorial, several of the featured artists sought unique and innovative applications of wood in their pieces. From manipulating the hard material into one with fabric-like draping capabilities, to the reuse of existing pieces, much of the works tread the line between functional object and work of art. Artist Gareth Neal says he is attempting to “define the space between design and art.” (Another exhibit currently running at MAD delves further into this topic).

The exhibit is on view until September 15. More information can be found here.

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