Collectors of Wood Art
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David Richardson

2012    Size   H: 46 in  W: 23 in  D: 15 in  

Available for Purchase - contact the maker

Cherry, mahogany with mounted cyanotype prints. This cabinet combines strategies and techniques from furniture making traditions and graphic design to tell a visual story. It was made for a themed show about New Bedford Harbor for the New Bedford Art Museum. The story is about two men - John Manjiro in Japan and Herman Melville in New Bedford, Ma., who set off on sea voyages within 3 days of each other in January of 1841, crossing the oceans in opposite directions, Melville toward Japan and Manjiro eventually to Fairhaven (New Bedford), and their parts in the story of the opening of Japan, the drifting of ideas and cultures carrying through to today, while still smelling the same oceans, hearing the same birds - two men in nature and history. The story is told in an abstract way with the open ended, overlapping, non-linear meanings particular to images, including images of text - like the Moby Dick images, which can be read for the actual Rockwell Kent imagery - like the crow's nest, which could be imagined as Melville himself on his first whaling voyage - or as an image representing the book Moby Dick and its place in our histories, all superimposed on a piece of furniture. This seems logical, in the logic perhaps of the Japanese tea bowl, because a cabinet is made to hold things, a special cabinet made with great care and purpose is made to hold special things, so this cabinet could be said to hold ideas and stories on its surface through purpose made images of my own - drawings and photos made from nature locally - as well as appropriated images from various sources. Besides the narrative content about Melville, John Manjiro and New Bedford harbor, the piece is a visual proposal. The graphics are about diagonals - all the exciting things you might do with diagonals. There's a rhythm of positive/negative. There's a grid structure -the artsy scrapbook - japanized by the off centered, asymmetrical, Mikado-like, coy cocking of the head in the placement of the images. The blue and white cyanotype prints open up another cliched image of Japan. There's a balance - maybe an imbalance - between the simple sweeping form - the box on stand - and the slight chaos of the floating graphic strategy. You could say there's some appropriation of images, though that might be a very 80's way of seeing it. It might be more about presenting images on Facebook and trying to affect the great digital image flow.

Drifting detail

painted interior

Artist talk at U. Mass. Dartmouth Gallery

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