Wharton Esherick is known as one of the pioneering craftspeople of the 20th century. He elevated furniture to an art level creating his own unique style of furniture, sculpture, wood prints, architecture etc. His work is seen as the beginning of what is known as studio furniture now, finely crafted typically functional expressive furniture. His beautiful, completely hand detailed home and studio are open for tours in the Valley Forge area.
A large beloved Poplar tree that stood next to his studio had to be taken down. The Esherick Museum gave the tree new life by giving the kiln dried lumber to 42 artists. It was great to see such of a variety of work from one tree, a complete spectrum from traditional furniture to sculpture.
making the piece :
My first idea was to make a large see-saw so I asked for two flitches (rough slabs of wood) . During this time period I was doing a bunch of experimental carvings incorporating concepts from anatomy, jazz/improvisation and composition, science, nature, love, silliness, dreams, abstract, fractals, math, spirituality, graffiti etc....
The more I thought about the piece the more I wanted to do a large experimental wall relief.
Early on in the sketching process I came up with the title "to love is to save" which gave me a design direction.
Love is such an immense power source that seems to get lost in the day to day thing. It is very easy to forget purpose in life but I do feel it's important to use our power of love more often than we probably do.
to love is to save tells the story of life ... the protective pulse, energy, celebration, fertility, unity, creation, existence, home, comfort and the afterlife.
I was fortunate to have Ben Schachter lend his song A Giant Among Us to the time lapse and can't imagine anything in it's place when I watch the video. The song is full of twists and turns, power and flow.
It was the largest piece I worked on at 5 foot 8 inches by 21 inches.