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MassArt student work strikes a chord

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Using rough hewn slabs from logs to create the seat and desk top, Myles Purington adds graceful legs to this desk and chair, proving opposites attract. Apple/Ash Set, 2012; apple, white ash, by Myles Purington.

A visit to Working Wood: Furniture Making at Massart, an exhibit at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, brought me back to my childhood. I have enormous respect for woodworking after spending my childhood years watching my father restoring wooden boats and crafting a cabinet or two in his basement workshop. He fashioned a workbench for my brother and me so we could join him as he worked and I have happy memories of hours spent alongside him, sanding a block of wood into oblivion. From there, my creations involved a lot of wood glue and bent nails, but my dad’s efforts would eventually yield a new coffee table for my mom, or a long overdue handrail for the staircase. While studying art in college, I could have taken a woodworking elective, but, alas, I never strayed far from the two dimensional world.

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Not so for these undergraduate and graduate students at MassArt, whose work is on display now through November 26 in the President’s Gallery, located on the 11th floor of the Tower Building at 621 Huntington Avenue. Curated by instructor Mitch Ryerson and assisted by student designer Sophia Guthrie, the exhibit includes works created by the school’s architecture students and future furniture designers over the last few years.


Ryerson recently met us for a personal tour and bit of background into the woodworking program. In some cases, wood used in the works on display were hand selected from his own woodlot outside the city, appropriate for a curriculum that stresses responsible harvesting and the importance of using native materials. MassArt has experienced increased interest in woodworking in recent years and construction of a new machine room and shop is currently underway. Here, along with the desk and chair set above, are a few of our favorites from the show.
The artist describes the contours of this design as “embracing the user.” We also liked the useful built-in pencil holder.

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Writing Desk, 2013; white oak by Karolina Rojahn.

This sturdy yet delicate, small-scale stool would be at home in any modern apartment. The use of walnut and basswood to create a warm two-tone palette is also very appealing.

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+U, 2013; walnut, basswood by Pasu Charusiri.

Long planks of wood were shaped into a daybed made of oak and mahogany.

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Appalachian Daybed: Front Porch, 2013; Oak, mahogany by David Fricke.

This table is a fascinating display of vision and technique. It does not require any hardware to assemble and breaks down into a flat stack. IKEA, run for the hills!

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Tenon Table, 2012; walnut, maple by Annie Meyer.

Great design is always at your fingertips — read the November/December 2013 issue online!

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