Art - Sculpture / Wood - Michael Bauermeister


While studying sculpture at the Kansas City Art Institute I worked in all kinds of media and materials but soon settled on wood as a favorite.  I liked the natural beauty of it and the contemplative process of working it using traditional methods.  I have since evolved into using some not-so-traditional methods but with some precautions it can still be an enjoyable process.  By the time I graduated I was working in wood exclusively.

Moving from school into the real world I found it impossible to make a living as a sculptor.  But I found that I could satisfy some of those same urges to build things in three-dimensional space by making furniture.  And people would actually pay me to do it.  So for about 15 years that's what I did, struggling to make ends meet while supporting my family.  

While playing around in my studio with a technique I'd come up with to make a different kind of wooden bowl I stumbled onto the path that would lead me back to the more sculptural work I make today.  For awhile I made vessels and furniture both but for the past 15 years all I've done is this very satisfying, creative work.

I make wooden vessels because I have to make something and I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't much matter what. These sculptural forms offer the viewer a place to start, the iconic and comfortable bowl and container, and from there I'm free to explore any idea or mood I can imagine. Since my background is a cabinetmaker I usually build a vessel up out of several pieces of wood which is then carved, turned and sometimes painted before being lacquered and polished. I like to work in a scale not usually associated with wood bowls, forcing the viewer to see them in a new light.

In my new wall pieces I approach the wood as a canvas.  These undulating wood panels are carved, sometimes turned, and finished with layers of tinted lacquer which is partially sanded away before the piece gets a final stain and clear finish.  The panel is not quite flat but usually has the flowing quality of draped fabric or the surface of the sea.

I think of them as picture planes and as wooden objects in their own right.  I think of them as fields of color, sometimes inspired by the real fields around my studio, sometimes by other textures I see in nature such as the leafy canopies of trees and light reflecting off the surface 




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