Visitors to the Smith College
Museum of Art will have the chance to rest on 11 different works of
art, each individually created by a distinguished New England artist.
The newly commissioned pieces -- benches in wood, bronze and glass
created through a project called "Sit Up & Take Notice!" --
are part of the museum's permanent collection. Unlike most works in
the collection, however, they are meant to be touched -- indeed, sat
The bench project is also intended
to showcase New England's exceptional strength in the field of fine
furniture making. According to Curator of Painting and Sculpture Linda
Muehlig, "the fact that five of the participating artists live
and maintain studios locally is a testament to the wealth of talent
and high level of artistry in the Pioneer Valley." The Bench
Artists Benches were created by Silas Kopf of Northampton, Mass.;
Kristina Madsen of Southampton, Mass.; Judy Kensley McKie of Cambridge,
Mass.; Rick Wrigley of Provincetown, Mass.; Rosanne Somerson of Westport,
Mass.; Hank Gilpin of Lincoln, R.I.; Mark Del Guidice of Norwood,
Mass.; Dale Broholm of Wellesley Hills, Mass.; Wendy Stayman of Conway,
Mass.; Jason Berg of Florence, Mass.; and Polly Cassel of Northampton,
Polly Cassel traditionally
works in two ways: either buying old pieces to embellish or creating
new works that she carves or gouges to give them an old look. Vibrant
colors and organic forms are often employed in her furniture. She
has described her approach to her pieces as "characterized by
volumetric forms, organic and hard-edge lines and surface embellishment." The
Boston Globe has featured her work and she received an "outstanding
achievement" award from the Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston.
Her work has been exhibited in solo and many group shows at the Museum
of Art, Rhode Island School of Design (from which she received the
MFA degree in furniture design), the International Contemporary Furniture
Fair in New York and elsewhere. Photograph by Jim Gipe.
Silas Kopf is known
throughout the woodworking world for his expertise in creating decorative
designs or "paintings" from pieces of wood veneer. His work
has been exhibited nationally and is also held in private collections.
Most recently Kopf designed the veneer for a grand piano for Steinway & Sons.
His techniques include the cutting and assembling of tiny pieces of
wood from all over the world. Among them are satinwood, bubinga, ash,
rosewood and maple. When the delicate, thin sections of wood are fitted
together to create an image, the contrast of the different colors
and patterns creates a sense of three-dimensionality. The furniture
Kopf designs becomes a canvas for his mosaic artistry. It may take
up to several hundred pieces of wood to cover a single square foot.
A picture that other artists may produce with a paintbrush, Kopf creates
with the intricate composition of small pieces of wood. Photograph
by Jim Gipe.
Features of the
as Functional Art