30th Annual Juried Woodworking Exhibition

June 13, 2024 – September 8, 2024

Often defined as a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound, the idea of rhythm has extended across Esherick’s career, taking on multiple meanings. Rhythms, the Wharton Esherick Museum’s 30th Annual Juried Woodworking Exhibition, takes as its inspiration the expansive way that Wharton Esherick integrated the idea of rhythms into every part of his life and work. While the artists featured in this exhibition each think differently about this concept, each skillfully uses Esherick’s chosen medium of wood to invite us into the patterns shaping their own lives and thoughts. All twenty-five artists explore this idea materially and conceptually, offering insight into the cadence of their practice and their creative aspirations. They invite us to ponder the rhythms at play in our own lives, the patterns that shape who we are, and how effectively wood can engage this expansive idea.

This virtual exhibition features the works of all 25 included artists. These works are also available for viewing in a publication which is available as a digital download or in hard copy. The artworks selected for First, Second, and Third place and Honorable Mention will also be on display in the Visitor Center through September 8th. Our Visitor Center is open during our current tour hours (Thurs – Sun 10am – 3pm). Please note, guests wishing to enter the Studio must make advance reservations for a tour.

Many of the works showcased in Rhythms are available for purchase and the WEM store also features new jewelry and home-goods made by artists.

2024 Guest Jurors: Jennifer-Navva Milliken and Kimberly Winkle

We were delighted to have Jennifer-Navva Milliken and Kimberly Winkle as our esteemed guest jurors for this year’s exhibition. Jennifer-Navva Milliken is the Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Museum for Art in Wood and Kimberly Winkle is a maker who creates furniture and objects using wood and paint as well as Professor and Director of the School of Art, Craft & Design at Tennessee Technological University.

First Place: Chelsea Witt

Chelsea Witt, Reaction, 2021. Beech, felt, 48″ x 16 3/4″ x 30″. Photography by Mark Juliana.

Chelsea Witt, Conflict Can Amplify Love, 2023. Ink, maple, 25″ x 28″.

Conflict Can Amplify Love engages in rhythm both visually and metaphorically. Physically, the line work moves around and in conjunction with the round object, creating a rhythmic pattern. It is unclear whether the object is causing the lines to act around it or if the lines are purposefully engulfing the objects. Metaphorically, the rhythm of emotion and action create a ripple effect surrounding worldly conflict. The viewer is meant to feel the tug of questioning around positivity or negativity. Is the “conflict” maneuvering the love? Or is the “love” reverberating around the “conflict”? The title suggests the latter. Either way, the rhythms of life, reaction and movement are felt here.

Most of my work uses repetition to create movement. On Reaction, a piece of furniture that is utilized for rest, I have created movement to interact with visually. The back of the bench is engraved with repetitive lines that have been transformed by an intruding object. The reflection of this pattern is transposed to the seating area where felt is inlaid and provides comfort for the body. The shelving space beneath the bench is also a repeated pattern of staves mimicking the line work above.

My work is a reflection of my own human experience, driven by the act of repeated patterns and delving into the depths of complex emotional struggles stemmed by internal and external events. I hope to inspire introspection, empathy, and a deeper connection to the differences within the human experience.

Chelsea Witt is a woodworker, illustrator, and educator. Their work utilizes rudimentary shapes to explore the way that simplicity and complexity coexist as a response to internal and external events. Chelsea has a passion for teaching those who would not typically have access to or have been underrepresented in the woodworking field. Chelsea is the Education Chair for the Chair Maker’s Toolbox, as well as a volunteer for the Furniture Society, a Workshop of Our Own, and the Maine Crafts Association.

After graduating from the University of South Florida with a BFA they have worked and taken opportunities up and down the east coast seeking growth in furniture making specifically.

Chelsea has worked for and or studied under makers such as Alexis Dold, Tyler Hays (BDDW), Christina Boy, Aaron Fedarko, and David Upfill-Brown. They have attended courses at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina and The Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. Chelsea’s teaching experience includes: the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship (ME), Penland (NC), Peters Valley (NJ), Pocosin (NC), Port Townsend (WA), Haystack (ME). Currently Chelsea is teaching age 10-18 year olds in New Jersey and spends the summers in Mid-Coast Maine teaching and focusing on their personal practice.

chelseacarinawitt.com |  @littleforestswontdo

Second Place: Raul De Lara

Raul De Lara, Tornado, 2020. Cedar, walnut, pine, leather, 17-year-old Tennessee Walking Horse hair, lacquer, acrylic, steel, 21 1/2″ x 9 1/2″ x 21 1/2″. (left)

Raul De Lara, The Wait (Again), 2022. Walnut, cedar, hemu, lacquer, color pencil, urethane, pigment, 21″ x 19″ x 20 1/2″. (right)

I study the rhythm of cacti spikes and use them poetically in my work to describe emotions such as pain and grief. The Wait (Again) is about the sometimes painful seasons of life that one can only sit and wait out. Tornado was made to commemorate the passing of my friend’s horse named Tornado. This piece is my way of continuing the rhythm of life as one body transforms from one thing when it dies to another in its afterlife. The piece was made using the hair from Tornado’s tail.

Raul De Lara is a sculptor based in New York City. De Lara’s practice is rooted in storytelling via woodworking. He immigrated from Mexico to the United States at the age of 12, and has been a DACA recipient since 2012. Growing up in Texas as a non-English speaker, and still currently unable to leave the USA, his work questions ideas around nationality, queer identity, and the immigrant experience. Exploring forms inspired by flora, mask makers, furniture design and architecture, De Lara imbues his sculptures with a hybrid mixture of Mexican/American cultural references, and functions. His research preserves, honors and propels forward traditional uses of wood while combining them with new developments in the global industry of woodworking. De Lara received his MFA in Sculpture + Extended Media from Virginia Commonwealth University (2019), and a BFA in Studio Art from the University of Texas at Austin (2015).

Third Place: George Lorio

George Lorio, Discontinued, 2022. Found bark attached to constructed wooden armature, 18 1/2″ x 18 1/2″ x 5 1/2″.

These constructions are fictitious renderings of trees, stumps, and logs. They appear abstracted, altered to pair with other modules to offer the viewer a vision of decay and rebirth on the forest floor: the rhythm of life in the forest. Pattern activates the surface of the forms with cut found twigs or bark alluding to the activity of photosynthesis when sunlight is turned into energy. When I create sculptures suggesting a living tree with forest floor detritus, it is a form of incantation — a poetic activity. An antidote to the industrial development that cares more for removing trees, laying asphalt, and erecting concrete buildings than allowing space for a seed to sprout.

I use a narrative of social concern to engage dialogue. My sculptures convey my comments on ecological destruction and renewal; they present the value of nature’s provision of trees as they are the source for human shelter, oxygen, and avian refuge. My present sculptures arouse concern with visual prods into the contemporary urgency of forest desolation. Nature’s resource of trees is the source for oxygen, air pollution mitigation, carbon capture, limitation of soil erosion and city cooling via the arboreal canopy. These are by-products of photosynthesis: climate restoration through the normal life cycle of trees.

I was born and raised, through my teenaged years, in New Orleans. It framed my vision of life. It was and continues to be a place of extremes: beauty and decay, religion and ritual, custom and iconoclasm. From that experience, I acquired an excitement for visual matters: colors, forms and even artifacts. Having lived on the border with Mexico for ten years changed my view of contemporary culture and our collective social responsibility. At the time of the “9/11” bombing of the Twin Towers, NYC, my sojourn as a professor at the University of Texas in Brownsville on the Mexican border altered my aesthetic. Viewing the ambient drug wars, the desperation of immigrants, and the collapsing Mexican democracy due to endemic political corruption and perceiving the curious lack of commitment for dialogue to offer solutions for the growing racial division, wealth inequality, and environmental decline in my own nation, I changed my insular focus of my art to embrace more topical issues.

Honorable Mention: Talia Drury

Talia Drury, The Sound of Nature, 2022. Cherry, maple, birch plywood, milk paint, shellac, 12″ x 2 1/4″ x 31 1/2″.

The Sound of Nature both depicts and contains the memories of my time spent at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in the summer of 2022 and the many little intricacies, such as the growing ghost pipe flowers, that I found on the walks I took while I was there in the woods. A consistency of both my work and my health is being able to walk within nature. I take the time frequently to experience the woods near my apartment and am always pleasantly surprised that even on a path that I walk frequently and know like the back of my hand, I’ll find something new. These feelings were the same when it came to experiencing the beautiful woods up in Deer Isle. I frequently went out for little excursions and night walks when I wasn’t busy carving or shaping. This guitar is a physical memory of the space, has a melodic tone fitting of its shape and design and is the epitome of my rhythm of working with wood.

From an early age, I was exposed to the natural world through my grandparent’s wooded property and was able to explore the space freely and learn its history. I create hand carved and shaped natural objects that can be used as a way of reinterpreting and highlighting the beauty and surprises found in the quieter moments outside. My work is an invitation to the viewer to take a walk with me as I explore my experiences in nature and accentuate the details that are so often overlooked on the journey.

I grew up in the midwest and moved only an hour away from family for my undergraduate degree. I pursued my undergraduate degree at Iowa State University in Industrial Design with minors in both Business and Design Studies. I am currently pursuing a MFA from Rochester Institute of Technology in Furniture Design. I find much of my inspiration from small, handheld objects, and I build pieces relating formally to these collected objects, as well as holding the objects I have found.

Viewer’s Choice: Aaron Michalovic

Aaron Michalovic, CEASELESS, 2023. Reclaimed longleaf pine, 33 x 44 x 2 inches.

This work, which uses only reclaimed wood from a historic house in East Austin, Texas, uses repetition to show movement and rhythm.

About the Artist:

Inspired by hand-made, process-evident building and art making, Aaron Michalovic has an eye for color and meticulous detail. After moving to Austin from Maine in 2008, he started collecting reclaimed materials that were being thrown away as houses in his neighborhood were torn down, and with these he began experimenting with color, texture and pattern, creating beautiful wood collages. As a woodworker, Aaron has a passion for the use of hand tools and works in many different styles, including timber frame structures, furniture, and hand-carved usable goods.

michalovicwoodart.com | @michalovicwoodart

Juried Selections

Learn More

Click on the tabs below to learn more about each artist featured in the 30th Annual Juried Woodworking Exhibition.


Christian Burchard, Composition #4, 2023. Pacific madrone. 12 x 9 x 8 inches. Photography by Kristy Kún.

Rhythm like pattern, repeated careful cuts that remove a certain percentage of material and leave the wood flexible.

I have been working with wood for most of my life. We are comfortable with each other, have a close relationship and I value the connection immensely. I am curious what is inside, how it works. I am always looking for the gifts it has to offer. At times I am awed by its beauty and the story of its history, the tracks that the passing of time have left. I am driven to expose this beauty, to make it shine. At other times I am more fascinated with its inner structure, its more subtle form and spirit.

To be working this closely with nature is a blessing, but also often overwhelming. It is a struggle. At times I find myself needing to put my foot down, to control the outcome of my work, only to find that I trampled something beautiful. At other times I feel overwhelmed, scared: what is needed of me here, how can I match the beauty of this living thing? How am I to know when to be loud and when to be quiet…? Maybe this stuff just matches my personality, something to wrestle with, something that stirs my imagination, something to control. That nature versus manmade thing, that struggle, that tension, that conflict.

My work is about my relationship with nature, my desire to connect with it on a deep level. Trying to get under its skin and be part of it. Searching, finding something sacred, adding my touch, wrestling with it. Showing the beauty of it under a different light: exposing, transforming. I make things out of a deep urge to create and out of a driving curiosity.

About the Artist:

Christian Burchard is a German trained woodworker and sculptor active in the U.S. for the last 40 years and is currently a studio artist working in Southern Oregon. Burchard started out his career with furniture and timber framing, then moved to wood turning and sculpture. He has taught extensively at various organizations across the country for the last 20 years. His work has been collected by over twenty- five museums and is in many private collections. His work is marked by a continuing search for the unexpected, the unpredictable, while using mostly green wood in a variety of ways.

burchardstudio.com | @chburchard

Abigail Castañeda, Sylva, 2024. Catalpa 7 1/2 x 7 1/2 x 10 1/4 inches.

Drawing inspiration from the remains of fallen trees, the Sylva series captures the essence of the woodlands, a realm where each season adorns the landscape in ever-changing colors, and the intricate web of life weaves its delicate patterns around us. The series’ name, Sylva, echoes the forest’s stoic beauty, offering homage to the resilient presence of trees that majestically rise through life’s unending rhythms. Sylva represents a vessel for untold stories, awakening within us an appreciation of the fragile interplay between growth and decay, and the indomitable spirit that flourishes in embracing the cycles of life.

About the Artist:

Abigail Castañeda, an artist and woodturner born in the Philippines, currently resides in the Hudson Valley, New York. She leads a woodworking studio specializing in the creation of contemporary vessels and furniture. Her distinctive approach involves utilizing fallen trees, thereby nurturing the connection between her art and the natural world. Deepening her understanding of the collective psyche, she is also studying Jungian Psychology.

abigailcastaneda.com | @abivc


Kate Cameron Davidson, Cloud Cabinet, 2023. Maple, paper, 12 x 4 1/2 x 10 inches.

This two-sided interactive cabinet was designed as a response to our own constantly changing skies. The seven paper clouds are each adjustable, letting a viewer explore the innumerable combinations of skylines they can create. Clouds mark the passing of time, the changes in atmosphere, or the evolution of seasons. They make every day both distinct and the same as the one before it. However, it only takes a small shift in the weather to alter the entire look of the sky.

My studio practice lies at the intersection of architecture and atmosphere. Ranging from furniture to sculpture to site- responsive installation, the work I make plays with the ways light and water interact with our built spaces, from fleeting and unexpected effects to long-term material changes. I’m drawn to moments that represent the relationship between the natural and constructed environment, like sunlight reflecting suddenly off a building, cloud formations moving across the city, capillary-based water marks on concrete, or UV fading. Using a combination of wood, string, and wire along with semi-translucent paper, my pieces become a record of the architectural details and discoveries that have caused me to slow down and wonder about the world around me. They are examples of the way that moments of delight, curiosity, or stillness can mediate driftlessness and dislocation, and help us connect with our surroundings and create a sense of place.

About the Artist:

Kate Davidson is a wood-based artist who incorporates glass, fabric, and color into her sculpture and furniture. Originally from Massachusetts, she has lived in California, Vermont, Maine, and Illinois, where she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago. Her interest in wood was sparked while working as a caretaker on an island land preserve off the coast of Maine, and she decided to return to school full-time to study furniture design and craft. Since then, she has taught community classes at Shelburne Craft School in Vermont and worked as the Staff Fellow for the Center of Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine. Her work has been displayed in a range of gallery shows including the Center for Art in Wood’s exhibit Making a Seat at the Table in Philadelphia.

katecamerondavidson.com | @katekatecameron


Alicia Dietz, In Solitary / In Solidarity, continuing series. Walnut, UHP concrete, natural oil/wax, 88 x 4 x 11 inches.

Photography by Alexis Courtney

A synonym for rhythm is cadence. After serving in the military for over a decade, I’ve become very familiar with the rise and fall of this beat
in all of its forms. Both in life and in work, cadence has manifested itself in a variety of ways.

My current body of work is a manifestation of the idea of individuality within groups and the landscapes they create. In Solitary / In Solidarity was a multi-section piece composed of high-performance concrete and live edge walnut. The live edge of the tree varies with each piece, as does the horizon it creates. Each concrete pour is unique. In true wabi sabi nature, no two will be identical. Like the soldiers that formed my military units, each section forms a cohesive group while maintaining its unique individuality. These pieces are a reflection of how we are all part of something bigger than ourselves. They are the physical result of how I can’t help but hope — to look ahead and see an expansive horizon.

About the Artist:

Alicia Dietz is a woodworker and Iraq War veteran. From 2001 – 2011, she served in combat and peace-keeping operations as a U.S. Army Officer, UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter Pilot, Maintenance Test Pilot, and Company Commander of over 125 soldiers. In 2016, Dietz received an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in furniture design and woodworking. She holds two woodworking and furniture degrees from Vermont Woodworking School in 2013 and 2012 and a BSJ in Advertising/Journalism from Ohio University in 2001. Her work has been exhibited at the Center for Art in Wood (Philadelphia, PA), Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA), and Arrowmont School of Crafts (Gatlinburg, TN), among others.

aliciadietzstudios.com | @aliciadietzstudios

Karen Ernst, Water Cabinet, 2022. Basswood, milk paint, 31 1/2 x 7 x 12 inches.

I was a competitive swimmer from age seven through college. I have continued to swim laps in pools for exercise but during the pandemic, I joined a group of triathletes that would meet regularly to do open water swimming in Lake Erie.

I quickly learned how different the conditions in the lake could be, depending on the weather. Some days the water was clear, and others it was almost opaque. On good days, the water would be flat, on others the waves could be huge, almost chaotic. In contrast to the regular rhythm my family adapted to, being somewhat isolated during the pandemic, I found I needed to adjust every time I swam in the lake, to whatever rhythm the waves had that day. This piece was made shortly after that time, when it really became apparent how essential access to swimming is to my well-being.

About the Artist:

Karen Ernst is a Professor in the Art Department at Pennsylvania West University — Edinboro, where she has been teaching all levels of woodworking and furniture design since 2004. Originally from East Aurora, NY, she received a BA in Studio Art from SUNY Geneseo in 1998, and her MFA in Furniture Design from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2002. She has been serving as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Furniture Society since 2018 and is currently the Board President. She maintains an active studio practice, exhibiting the furniture and sculptural objects she makes in art venues across the U.S. Her work is featured in Lark Books publication’s 500 Chairs, 500 Tables, and 500 Cabinets, as well as Schiffer Publishing’s The Maker’s Hand: Contemporary Studio Furniture. In 2023, she was selected to become a Roycroft Artisan, as part of the Roycrofters at Large Association based in East Aurora, NY.


Roberto Gastelumendi, S(c)ient, 2023. Wood, 14 x 14 x 24 inches. Photography by Sibilia Savage.

The jointed wood of this stool shows off a harmony of angles and waves of grain, in concert with each other, while each creating their own distinct patterns. Almost like a dynamic musical composition, the uniquely jointed structure is composed of tightly-knit staccato moments, and languid, flowing curves. The stool’s legs echo each other, a practice in repetition that alludes to the diligent process of creating complex combinations.

As an AfroPeruvian living in the Bay Area of California for almost 30 years, and a self-taught woodworker and artist, I am committed to a practice of passion: repetition in a daily act of making. My creations are a testament to the richness and resilience that emerges from the recurrent layering of different grains and woods. I am enchanted with the personalities of the natural materials I work with, and see my work as a metaphor for what our society needs — strength derived from the joining together of different experiences, the reinforcement and resiliency through the laying together of intention.

About the Artist:

Roberto Gastelumendi’s rule-breaking woodworking technique defies the reactions of his materials — and the doubts of other woodworkers — and intricately joins fibers of a high- contrast mix of species (North American, South American, and African, which also reflect his own life path), grains, patterns and shapes, into a stronger bond, against all odds. Roberto composes his organic and geometric designs using a mosaic joinery method of his own invention, that he developed, complicated, and refined, over the last decade. This outside- the-box technique defies woodworking conventions, and despite often being mistaken as marquetry or inlay, the resulting jointed pieces (after being sawed, fitted, and glued) are the same dimension as, and provide the structural integrity for, each work of functional art.

gastboardsdesign.com | @gastboards


Martin Goebel, Zambian Throne Footrest, 2023. Black walnut, zebrawood inlay, 23 x 12 x 8 inches.

In the winter of 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I created the throne for Zambian Queen Melambeka of the Lamba. It was delivered three days before COVID-19 was deemed a pandemic, and I was stuck in Zambia for five weeks. The original footrest was not able to be delivered as it was lost or stolen in transit.

Three and-a-half years later, I was able to create a replacement. This time I created two in case one was once again lost. The first replacement was delivered to the Queen in the summer of 2023. The second is still in my possession, and is my submission to this exhibition.

The replacement foot rests are designed 100% in 3-D CAD via Solidworks. They were created by 5-axis CNC as an inverse of the drum beats I recorded in 2020. The curvature of the footrest matches the undulation histograms in the digital recordings of traditional drums played by Lamba tribesmen during a formal ceremony at the Royal palace outside of Ndola, Zambia.

About the Artist:

Martin Goebel is an industry thought leader in digital design, automated manufacturing and integration into the furniture industry. His bespoke works are represented in public and private collections around the globe. Now more than two decades into his career in luxury goods, his newest project, KINDRED FURNITURE | Modern Heirloom Furniture focuses on bringing elevated furniture in volume to the mass market. Martin founded Goebel Furniture in February 2011. He holds an MFA in Furniture Design from the Rhode Island School of Design, a BFA in Studio Arts from the University of Missouri and a Certificate of Fine Furniture from the College of the Redwoods.

goebelfurniture.com | @goebel_co_furniture


Graham Hyun, Whale Loop, 2010. Walnut, 52 x 32 x 1 1/2 inches. Photography by Gudmundur Vigfusson.

My work explores the intersection where natural forms meet the rectilinear world. The process of crafting wood is in itself a rhythmic one, and I use this rhythm to reveal points of contrast between natural and man-made forms. Material that is naturally dense, heavy, and durable — like walnut or elm — becomes easy to move, shape, and tool with thoughtful and rhythmic responses to its given characteristics. The visual result is abstract yet natural and geometric, mimicking both the process and raw material used. My work explores these intersections and inherent dualities while revealing the unfettered beauty and rhythm of nature.

About the Artist:

I am an artist from California working primarily as a woodworker, building both sculpture and fine furniture. I attended UCLA as an undergraduate, where I explored and studied many mediums and studied conceptual practice. I went on to work for several prominent artists as an assistant and fabricator in Los Angeles. I also worked at various art institutions handling and installing work from around the world. While I have always maintained a practice of making sculpture in many mediums, after years of working in carpentry trades and honing my craft in fine woodworking, wood ultimately became my medium of choice. My work is a constant exploration of the inherent uniqueness and beauty in nature, and the many ways in which one can work with or against it for both aesthetic and functional needs.


Alex Jarus, Intangible Relic, 2021. Ash (dyed black), beech, brass. 32 x 12 x 80 inches.

This monolithic reliquary for memories past, present, and future plays on the rhythms of time. With each ring representing past, present, and future respectively, from largest to smallest, with the center core existing as the conscious with a window to the interior of the subconscious, I aim to represent how my mind tracks memories and correlates experiences across time. The rhythms that emerge in life are the moments in which sections of the rings cross, creating patterns across time.

About the Artist:

Alex Jarus is an artist and educator, working within the realm of wood based sculptural and furniture forms. Although their dominant area of craft is woodworking, they consider themselves a curator of many art forms and mediums. The works they create are artifacts that explore the patchworks of their queer and non-binary identity through the visual lens of cosmic entities. Although all of their artifacts are contemporary works, they have attempted to remove them from a particular known visual time in hopes of providing a level of escapism into a world their own.

alexjarus.com | @alx.jrs


Zac Keane, ISRU Boombox, 2023. OSB plywood, pine, steel, scavenged patio speaker, 24 x 2 1/2 x 10 3/4 inches.

ISRU Boombox is a job site boombox made with scavenged materials that amplifies music to keep the rhythm or boogie of your work increase. There are small moments of rhythmic elements in the box’s construction in how it is fastened together, which can be seen in the OSB plywood.

My work began from a desire to share a bond with the viewer, similar to oral traditions of storytelling and songwriting. Exploration of how to achieve an equally effective message with objects identified an equally important compulsion to erode any implied barrier of art viewing and making. My inspiration comes from lived experiences, cherished family members, as well as historical and anthropological intrigues.

About the Artist:

Woodworking, small metal, and general fabrication are Zac’s passions, but he enjoys all aspects of creativity from oil painting to analogue photography. He mixes life experiences with furniture forms and unique material juxtapositions to create uniquely morphed creations. Zac has an MFA in Furniture Design and Woodworking and a BFA in Applied Design from San Diego State University, and an Associates Degrees in Communications and Photography from Grossmont Community College.

zackeane.com | @cpthardderps


David Knopp, Tides, 2023. Baltic Birch plywood, 30 x 16 x 19 inches.

Plywood is a rigid engineered wood and may not be a material easy to warm up to for sculpting. I prefer to focus on the material’s stratified edges of the veneers. Carving into a stack laminated form and exposing the linear details,

I am able to imbue the rigid nature of wood with fluidity. The repetitive layers inherent in plywood become the lines used to suggest rhythm and movement. I find myself falling into a flowing rhythm as I carve the material. Exposing the line work as I carve becomes the foundation and most visual element in my sculptures. I can control the carving process, but the pattern in the material sometimes dictates the sequence. It can lead to a harmonious rhythm within which I work.

About the Artist:

David Knopp has explored the aesthetic qualities of line for many years, first with life drawings, then with sculpture. In 2012 Knopp received the Mary Sawyer Baker Artist Award, which included an exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art. He was a recipient of Maryland State Art Council’s Individual Artist Award in 2012. In 2013 he was a semi-finalist for the Sondheim Prize. Since then, he has been invited to exhibit work throughout the Baltimore, Washington, DC and Philadelphia metropolitan areas. Knopp was accepted in juried exhibitions, including Craftforms 2011 through 2016, Living with Craft Invitational 2014, SOFA Chicago 2014 and 2016, Delaware Center for Contemporary Art 2013, 2014, The Center for Art in Wood in 2016, and the Delaware Art Museum Craft Exhibition in 2019. One of his sculpted chairs is in the permanent collection of the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, MD.


Rainy Lehrman, Circadian Rhythm, 2024. Walnut, sassafras. 12 x 6 x 12 inches. (top)

Rainy Lehrman, Labor Byproduct, Ongoing. Sawdust, water, sod. Dimensions variable. (bottom)

Circadian Rhythm has no beginning or ending, only continuous flow. There is brief respite as the eye settles on the carved body but it is almost immediately pulled back into the tension and energy looping from and returning to itself. The rhythm observed in this work is like a fresh breath ready to be exhaled, it is in the instant anticipation of itself.

Labor Byproduct surveys the process of craft and gives evidence of this creative endeavor. I use sawdust to highlight the invisible part of making that is rarely observed, labor. Each layer represents physical labor accomplished by an individual shop or woodworker. The result is a wall that mimics geological strata and appears like a crisp extrusion, pulled from the ground. As the wood is exposed to natural elements it quickly oxidizes, spalts, and erodes. A whole life cycle quickly emerges and, if left to its own devices, the work will decay back into the earth. I have installed these for as little as one month and as long as 10 years.

About the Artist:

Rainy Lehrman received her MFA in Sculpture from Pratt Institute in 2008 and her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2002 where she studied Furniture Design. Lehrman has lectured and taught at Pacific Northwest College of Art, William Paterson University and Pratt Institute. Lehrman has exhibited bi-coastally and is currently living and working as an artist, educator, fabricator and facilitator in Brooklyn, New York.

rainylehrman.com | @bentwoodbrooklyn


Matthew Mosher, MOWJ-H36R3S30PS, 2022. White oak, walnut, jute, 12 x 12 x 36 inches. Photography by Loam

This woven form was generated with computer code given an initial base profile shape. The piece bears a geometric rhythm formed by the grid members, and an organic flowing rhythm based on the perceived curves of the outer skin.

I am drawn to the organic growth of rust, the softness of wood, the fragility of plaster, the reflection of light, the pervasiveness of sound, and the cleanliness of code. My recent work in generative forms is a collaboration with computing machinery. I am enticed by algorithmic art due to the immediacy of iteration. I use mathematical formula to produce multiple forms and selectively refine them into finished works that address materiality, repetition, and scale. I use chance operations and current events to fuel my design process. These systems connect directly to ancient divination techniques, which have a long history in the visual and performing arts.

About the Artist:

Boston native Matthew Mosher is an intermedia artist, research professor, and Fulbright Scholar who creates embodied experiential systems. Their work explores the intersections of fine art, computer programming, and critical making resulting in immersive installations, interactive sculptures, post-participatory data visualizations, and dynamic performances. Their projects have engaged themes of meditation, gun violence, digital isolation, and tangible memory. Mosher creates conduits between digital technology and material forms to highlight our complex relationships with machines and each other.

Mosher is currently an Associate Professor of Games and Interactive Media at the University of Central Florida. They received their BFA in Furniture Design from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2006 and their MFA in Intermedia from Arizona State University in 2012.


Cory Olsen, Tree Rock Robot Table, 2023. White oak, stone. 18 x 18 x 21 inches.

Tree Rock Robot Table is a part of a series that brings together stones found in our surroundings with crafted wooden armatures. This collection has humble beginnings, starting as a set of trays designed for daily convenience — providing a place for your keys, wallet, and phone. With this piece, it has evolved into a functional table that’s meant to facilitate various everyday activities like reading a book, enjoying a cocktail, or managing your remote control. At its core, the Tree Rock Robot series is driven by a simple yet profound idea: to appreciate the beauty of common stones by re-imagining and presenting them in a bespoke way. These are stones you might ordinarily walk past without a second glance, but this collection encourages you to pause, take notice, handle, and find value in their inherent uniqueness, texture, and beauty. By fostering daily interaction, this series offers an opportunity and rhythm to escape our technology- centric lives, allowing us to slow down and reacquaint ourselves with the natural world. Tree Rock Robot Table is a humble reminder of the simple yet captivating beauty that surrounds us in everyday life.

About the Artist:

Cory Olsen is an Assistant Professor of Interior Architecture at the University of Oregon where he teaches coursework in advanced architectural media, construction, and furniture design/build studios. His research explores the integration of CAD/CAM technologies with traditional craft and making in furniture. Themes in his work include the merging of multiple digital fabrication processes, designing for serial difference, and the creation of digitally fabricated jigs and scaffoldings.

corymicah.com | @modeloshandy


Hilary Pfeifer, Tree Tree Tree, 2023. Reclaimed wood, 33 x 24 x 3 inches. Photography by Courtney Frisse.

My studio sits beneath a tree that is possibly older than every human on Earth. Its branches sprawl across three property lines and it has been a home to singing birds and chattering squirrels. Arborists wielded their loud saws to remove branches which are now part of my landscape and fosters buzzing insect life. I’m under a rat-a-tat siege for a month every year when the nuts fall to the earth. This tree provides my workspace much needed shade in the increasingly hotter months of summer.

This sculpture is an homage to that tree as a protector of my creative life and the studio where I spend most of my waking hours. I have had long days there with looming deadlines, and peaceful days with no outside concerns — not an unusual rhythm in the life of an artist. The many different pieces of wood are mostly small discards given to me over the past few decades by other artists — bits that are too small for them to use for furniture, sculpture, or even carved spoons. Even though I work in solitude, I am part of a large community of makers who have shared their insights with me and made me a better artist along the way.

About the Artist:

My training in ceramics, woodworking and metals gave me the skillset to explore the unexpected in my art. My themes are often about the complicated relationships between humans and nature. I love to find a physical object or specific fact about a site and build a body of work around that idea. As a proud native of the Pacific Northwest, I try to use found or reclaimed materials whenever possible, leaving less of a footprint on the Earth. The mark of the hand is important to me, and I believe it creates more meaningful art for those who live with it every day.


Bella Rielly, Spiral Staircase, 2023. Pine, oak, douglas fir, walnut, poplar, maple, cherry, doorframe, thresholds, upholstered chair, rope, paint, metal, tea bags, handmade recycled paper, 65 x 65 x 111 inches.

Spiral Staircase, created as a final thesis, is an interactive form of freestanding architecture. Utilizing hand-crafted timber-frame joinery to support its central spine and base, it invites viewers to traverse up seven of its seventeen unique steps. Supported by research into material histories, the significance of staircases, and the ancient form of a spiral, it explores themes of the passage of time, seasons, lifetimes, mental health patterns, history, sense of place, overlap, repetition, change, as well as the mathematical form of a sine wave. Sine waves and spirals are both energetic forms found in all scales of existence, as they represent rhythms of energetic movement. Allowing viewers to walk up just past half a turn in the twelve-step rotation, it invites movement through ascent, a pause, then a rotation of the viewer themselves to descend again. This references walking meditations and spiral labyrinth paths as a way to use one’s own body to both ground themselves internally and connect their mind and body to the external world.

Staircases get passed over countless times throughout a lifetime, and hold different significances as the body and mind age. Staircases and thresholds themselves experience a life of countless individuals passing over them in very similar ways within their housed building. With repetition comes rhythm, which in turn leaves markings on bodies and wooden forms. Each step along the way holds its own significance, and is made from wood of a unique source, including salvaged thresholds, a staircase stringer, a step from an old house, a broken chair, and a step referencing the lyrics and patterns of music scraps, among others.

About the Artist:

Bella Rielly is a recent recipient of a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Woodworking and Furniture Design at Maine College of Art & Design. Before landing in woodworking, she studied interior architecture, where existing buildings were the material focus. She is based out of Portland, Maine, with her roots extending back to Groton, Massachusetts. Rielly grew up resourceful with a background in collage and found object sculpture, relating now as she invites wood with varied histories into her resource library. Rielly creates furniture and personal aides, mixing stories of the self with the stories of the material into pieces that contribute personality and function within one’s home space. With comfort as the intended goal, the hand functions to love, both through making and once the piece is complete.

bellarielly.com | @bellariellystudio


Seth Rolland, Arcing Stone, 2018. Stone, wood, bronze patina, 7 x 3 x 3 inches. Photography by Myron Gauger.

Arcing Stone references the rhythm of water and movement of stones downstream. I see similarities between the movements of animals and the flow of water, and this piece intentionally blurs the line.

Forms in nature have always been my primary inspiration. I collect ideas while hiking in the forest, on beaches, or sailing in Puget Sound. I am drawn to natural forms because they are not static: they grow, spring, flow, fracture and erode. Each of my pieces starts with the idea of such a motion and grows from there.

I love wood because it is such a tactile medium, warmer and friendlier to the touch than most sculptural materials. I use textures, smooth areas, curves and edges so my pieces feel good to the hand as well as the eye.

About the Artist:

Seth Rolland is a custom furniture maker in Port Townsend, WA, with 30 years’ experience. His work is represented in galleries across the U.S. and Canada, and was featured in a 2016 solo show at the Bellevue Arts Museum in Washington. Seth’s furniture has been published in American Craft, The New York Times, the back cover of Fine Woodworking (2010), and books such as 500 Cabinets (Lark Books, 2010), 400 Wood Boxes (Lark Books, 2004), and 500 Chairs (Lark Books, 2008).

sethrolland.com | @seth_rolland_furniture


Rob Spiece, Hypnotizer Cabinet, 2023. Cherry, ash, wool, 21 x 18 x 72 inches. Photography by Sean Hall.

Hand carved and painted panels radiate in concentric circles, forming a book match across the two doors of Hypnotizer Cabinet. Bent legs curve up to support the dovetailed case. On the interior, grain-matched drawers are lined with wool and fit with dividers.
A small catch-all bowl nests in the upper shelf. The rhythm of handwork can be found in the hand-carved texture of surfaces, the gentle bends, and in the intersecting lines.

About the Artist:

Now the head of Woodcraft at Berea College, Rob Spiece has been a studio furniture maker and teacher for the past fifteen years. After moving from Pennsylvania to Kentucky, he now enjoys a creekside home where he spends most mornings and evenings enjoying the sounds of running water while trying to catch a glimpse of the beavers that make their home in its banks. Rob’s furniture has been wide and varied, but unique domestic materials and traditional joinery have always been at the heart of it. You can find him published in Woodcraft Magazine, Fine Woodworking, and Furniture & Cabinetmaking. In 2020, he was awarded the Wharton Esherick Prize for Excellence in Wood at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show.

robertspiece.com | @robert.spiece


Stephen Thrasher, Coopered Twist Table, 2023. White oak, 16 x 16 x 24 inches.

The Coopered Twist Table takes its construction from the ancient craft of coopering, the making of barrels and similar wooden containers. The term coopering has been borrowed into furniture-making to mean edge-gluing beveled pieces of wood, called staves, to form a curved component like a panel or enclosure. This piece features rhythms in the segments repeating around the shape, and a different rhythm in the new kind of work needed to create it.

In my woodworking, I experiment with technology to make sculptural furniture that echoes traditional techniques. Having started my woodworking with chisels, handsaws, and planes, I was at first wary of bringing technology into the process. I felt that technology in everyday life had all sorts of unintended effects, and I worried that in woodworking, it would separate me from the physical materials. Instead, I found it to be a fruitful playground with much to explore.

In a 1966 interview in Craft Horizons, Wharton Esherick said of automation and manufacturing, “the main thing is the heart and the head.” It is my hope not just that art and design grow with technology, but that I learn something about technology in general, how to engage with it, dig deep, and harness it for the growth of relationships.

About the Artist:

Stephen Thrasher is a furniture maker based in Somerville, MA. He attended the Furniture Design Certificate program at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. His path through the craft began with traditional hand tools and worked its way to digital design and fabrication, coming full circle from his 15 year engineering career in human spaceflight guidance.

stephenthrasher.studio | @thrasherww


Leah Woods, The Space Between, 2024. Veneer. 60 x 27 x 3 inches. Photography by Charley Freiberg. (top)

Leah Woods, Tangle, 2023 Veneer, plywood, 34 x 30 x 14 inches. Photography by Charley Freiberg. (bottom)

I think of rhythm as movement through forms with greater or lesser differences in color, shape, or space throughout the composition. Noticing these differences, in The Space Between the negative space in the middle of the piece as well as the movement of color from one side to the other, allows the viewer’s eye to circle around the sculpture.

In Tangle, these differences present themselves through the use of color, a darker yellow veneer is used on the outside of the forms, while a variety of lighter yellows are shown on the interior of each curve. Additionally, the curves move around and through each other, interlocked and unmovable yet fluid.

My current body of work is about building sculptures out of individual parts and pieces. Using the techniques of bent lamination and coopering, I create curved shapes and glue, screw, or bolt them together. Bent lamination allows thin pieces of wood to appear soft and gentle along their curve, while coopering allows those curves to be formed into volumes with precise edges and flat facets. These techniques, when used together, create cylindrical shapes that are fixed and yet fluid at the same time.

About the Artist:

Leah Woods is an artist working primarily with wood, building functional and non-functional objects. Having received her MFA in Woodworking and Furniture Design from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2000, she designed and built one-of-a-kind furniture before transitioning to explore conceptual and sculptural objects. Leah is one of three women, along with Lynn Szymanski and Mary McLaughlin, spearheading a new woodworking program at the New Hampshire Correctional Facility for Women, in Concord. Leah is also an Associate Professor of Art at University of New Hampshire where she teaches woodworking and furniture design classes.

leahkwoods.com | @leahkathleenwoods

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Rhythms Catalog

This 72-page, full-color catalog is a comprehensive look at Rhythms, the Wharton Esherick Museum’s 30th Annual Juried Woodworking Exhibition. This publication captures the innovative works of art, craft, and design by twenty-five artists whose work explores the rhythms that shape their creative lives. Each artwork in this year’s show is represented through imagery alongside artist statements and biographical information. The catalog also includes a welcome from WEM Executive Director Julie Siglin and an introduction from Emily Zilber, WEM Director of Curatorial Affairs and Strategic Partnerships.

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