Eleven benches, crafted by local and regional furniture artists, not only furnish the galleries but also provide an important link between the Museum and New England artists. The Museum has commissioned benches by Silas Kopf, Kristina Madsen, Dale Broholm, Hank Gilpin, Judy Kensley McKie, Rick Wrigley, Polly Cassel, Rosanne Somerson, Mark Del Guidice, Wendy Stayman, and Jason Berg.
Rosanne Somerson has been called “a consummate technician, aesthete, and breaker of barriers” who believes that pieces of furniture should be more than utilitarian, inanimate objects. In her work, Somerson seeks to achieve a physical, emotional, and intellectual engagement between what she calls her “furniture object” and the viewer/user. Her Bench for Smith Collegeis made of wenge, an extremely dark wood native to Africa. She created contrasting colors in the bench through a bleaching process that whitened the wood in parts of the seat and legs.