Although the name Wharton Esherick is nearly synonymous with wood, across his career Esherick used a wide array of materials, like metal and paint, with both innovation and sensitivity. Esherick’s first forays into wood took place while he was primarily a painter. Creating patterned frames that complemented his paintings, Esherick began to understand how two carefully chosen materials working together create artwork with resonance beyond the sum of its parts. His painting Mary (1922) frames an expressionistic rendering of his daughter with wood carved to mirror Esherick’s own brushstrokes.
An interest in how wood combines with other materials can be seen throughout Esherick’s career. The tightly latticed leather strapping on the Hessian Hills Chair (1924) is intimately woven around an elegant, attenuated wooden frame, while the thick canvas belting on the Hammer Handle Chair (1938) proves a perfect counterpoint for Esherick’s transformation of readymade tools into functional furniture for the Hedgerow Theatre. Wood in conversation with aluminum, stone, fiber, and paper can all be found in Esherick’s diverse repertoire, and even the very architecture of Esherick’s home and studio is a brilliant marriage between wood and other materials.
For the 27th year of the Wharton Esherick Museum’s annual juried woodworking exhibition, we invite you to share innovative works of art, craft, and design that showcase wood and at least one other medium. Whether functional or sculptural, each submission should reflect the way Esherick worked across a vast spectrum of materials and practices as well as his outside the box thinking.
We want to know how you might complete the phrase “wood and…”
Wood and glass? Wood and plastic? Wood and silver? The possibilities are endless!
Jurors Miguel Gómez-Ibáñez and Samantha deTillio, along with Emily Zilber, the Wharton Esherick Museum’s Director of Curatorial Affairs and Strategic Partnerships, will select the finalists for the exhibition from the images submitted using a blind jury process. It is strongly recommended that you submit high-quality images to ensure the jury sees your piece at its best.
The competition is open to both emerging and established makers. Entered works should creatively pair wood with at least one other material and be available for the duration of the exhibition. Jurors will evaluate the submissions based on inventive approaches to the prompt, craftsmanship and technical proficiency, aesthetics, and other considerations as determined by the jury.
Miguel Gómez-Ibáñez served as president of the North Bennet Street School (NBSS), a renowned school of craftsmanship in Boston, from 2006-2019. He currently serves as President Emeritus. Miguel is the first NBSS graduate (cabinet and furniture making, 1999) to lead the institution. Miguel holds a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and an undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University. Before enrolling at NBSS, he worked as an architect for 26 years. His furniture has been featured in House and Garden, American Craft, and other magazines, galleries, and museums across the country.
Samantha De Tillio is a curator and writer specializing in modern and contemporary craft. She is Curator of Collections at the Museum of Arts and Design, where her upcoming exhibition Beth Lipman: Collective Elegy (May 14, 2020 to March 28, 2021) is the artist’s first mid-career survey. She is also a Contributing Editor for GLASS: The UrbanGlass Art Quarterly and her ongoing personal research includes the first in-depth study of the life and fiber sculpture of Dorian Zachai (1932-2015). De Tillio has an MA in the History of Decorative Arts from the Smithsonian Associates with George Mason University, and a BA in History from the University of Albany. She has worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, and the Albany Institute of History and Art in various curatorial and research capacities.