In Against the Grain, the 90 pieces on display run the gamut from fine art to functional furniture. At one end of the spectrum, there is a series of glossy wooden animal skulls from sculptor Laurel Roth, and at the other, Nina Bruun’s Nest, a thoroughly contemporary chair, perches a seat pan atop a blizzard of swirling bentwood strips.
These sculptures, installations and furnishings typify the many ways artists and designers can experiment with the wood’s versatility – whether that means using new technologies or mastering centuries-old methods.
The exhibition presents these “conceptual and theoretical approaches to wood,” as MAD curator Lowery Sims describes them, in three thematic sections. “Logging On” includes wood used in its rawest state, as seen in Mark Moskovitz’s Facecord, a chest of drawers that looks like a stack of firewood.
“A Grain of Truth” focuses on objects that highlight the texture of wood, including its cracks and flaws – exemplified by Joachim de Callatay’s platform shoes, created using a wedge sole of roughly finished off-cuts juxtaposed with the immaculate stitching of the leather uppers.
Lastly, “Digitally Speaking” highlights works made using laser cutting, CNC, and other technologies that allow designers do things that would have been virtually impossible in the past – like Elisa Strozyk’s Wooden Textile, a blanket of triangular walnut tiles.
“This exhibition provides new ways for us to look at objects that we think are very familiar, as furniture, sculpture, and craft,” says Sims. “We hope to illuminate how different materials are being worked on today by contemporary artists.”
Against the Grain runs from March 19 to September 15, 2013, at the Museum of Arts and Design, 2 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019.