Wood Goes Against Grain at MAD

Pablo Reinoso's whimsical wooden shoes

Pablo Reinoso’s whimsical wooden shoes

All those years walking up and down the aisles at craft fairs may have you convinced that there’s nothing new in wood art. Get over to the final days of Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft, and Design at the Museum of Art and Design.

It’s not what you’d expect, and curator Lowery Stokes Sims has done a magnificent job in telling us what’s trending now with forward-looking artists on the scene.

In short, she focuses her two-floor exhibition on seven trends that she sees: Artists, like Ai Weiwei, working on socio-political themes, whimsical designers who make us smile, digital artists pushing the envelope with wood, collages, virtuoso technique, takes on trees, and works that just capitalize on the beautiful texture in the wood itself.

Check out our Flickr feed for views of some of our favorite works, and MAD’s four-minute video as Sims herself walks you through the show, the artists, and her thinking about the pieces and themes.

Steam-bent ash chairs by Christopher Kurtz

Steam-bent ash chairs by Christopher Kurtz

But let’s focus on some of our favorites, which you can see on Flickr.

Wood as fashion: What about these shoes by Pablo Reinoso? If you’re thinking Dutch wooden shoes, think again, because these dainties are inspired by Thonet chairs, that he’s embellished with long, wooden “tails”. Or wooden hats by fashionable Moody & Farrell of London.

Music: How did Maria Elena Gonzalez go from looking at a fallen birch tree to creating paper-thin birch rolls that can create stunning music on a player piano? Watch and hear it all on this video of her player piano in action.

Laurel Roth's Hominid Chimpanze (2011) from vere wood with Swarovsky crystals in the teeth

Laurel Roth’s Hominid: Chimpanze (2011) from vere wood with Swarovsky crystals in the teeth

How-did-they-do-that category: Bud Latvin’s gravity-defying wooden spiral sculptures, Christopher Kurtz’s impossible steam-bent chairs, and Elisa Strozyk’s wooden textile.

Recycled surprises: Think about what it took to turn 8,000 recycled chopsticks into a collapsible sofa. Good going, Yuya Yoshida.

If you can get to this show today or tomorrow, go. If not, take time to meet Leonard Drew in his studio, see his wood works in progress, and hear what success in wood feels like:

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