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.
Judy McKie works with wood, stone, and cast metal and is best known for her furniture in the shapes of animals. Wild Beast Bench is the only bronze piece in the Sit Up & Take Notice!project. McKie is drawn to the expressive possibilities of bronze, through both its material and color. She has said, “I can do things in metal that I couldn’t do in wood. Metal gives a sense of permanence and age.” With metal, her work can also be produced in small editions, and Wild Beast Bench was cast in an edition as one of nine. The reddish patina of Wild Beast Benchtricks the viewer momentarily into thinking it is made of wood. This beast is not a specific animal but rather a stylized animal form. Its “wildness” is suggested through its intense gaze, bared teeth, and spread ears. However wild it may seem, though, it is a friendly creature, and welcomes Museum visitors to rest on its back.