In many peoples’ minds, art is synonymous with paintings. Few think of sculpture when talking about art and even fewer think of wood. However, many beautiful and intricate pieces are made with wood. These sculptures from Zatista artists are vivid examples of this underappreciated medium.
This sculpture inspired by marine life was once a chunk of maple. It was textured and burned before being burnished with steel wool. This hyper-focused process is a form of expression the artist Cody Powell said, “comes from letting go of control and [having a] gut reaction to each new cut.”
This abstract sculpture of painted wood is an example of a technique artist Rosemary Pierce calls “dripping” where she drips the paint and moves the piece back and forth to get an effect of the paint defying gravity. Pierce said, “This series is all about capturing a look at life experiences; appreciating the motion, complexity, unpredictability, and beauty of letting go and living fully.”
Betty McGeehan’s sculpture uses color and geometric shapes to subvert the limitations of traditional painting. After working with bent wood and bamboo, she has moved to painted wood. McGeehan said she is breaking free of the subject matter of her earlier sculptures, “Using wood, the intersecting color and bold lines of this new work speak to the organic energy latent in all forms, regardless of time and space.”
Birdbath, made from laminated ash wood, is carved and stained into a graceful and smooth sculpture. Knapp says wood is suited for sculpture because it is a living material giving it a life of its own as a sculpture. This piece, Knapp said, “represents the shapes and graceful movements I have observed of the birds in my birdbath as the sun is setting.”
As the trees start to flower, and the environment refreshes with spring, think about the many avenues of art found in nature. Wood is an excellent medium for sculpture, but trees can be subjects for paintings, and their flowers, pressed and preserved, can be part of mixed media works. The possibilities, especially in the inspiring season of spring, are endless.