Rhythms: WEMs 30th Annual Juried Woodworking Exhibition Opens From Personal Ritual To The Patterns Of Nature, Contemporary Makers Take On The Theme Of Rhythms

June 7, 2024

The Wharton Esherick Museum (WEM) is pleased to announce the opening of Rhythms: WEMs 30th Annual Juried Woodworking Exhibition, on view beginning Thursday, June 13. Since 1994, the WEMs annual rhythm has included the Juried Woodworking Exhibition, designed to highlight connections between Eshericks creative legacy and the work of contemporary makers. For 30 years, this project has showcased works by hundreds of professional woodworkers, artists, designers, hobbyists, and craftspeople that reflect a form or theme drawn from Eshericks life. This year, WEM invited artists to share works that explore the rhythms that shape their creative lives. Rhythm, often defined as a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound, has appeared in Eshericks artistic life in both concept and practice. Many of the progressive artistic communities Esherick aligned himself with believed that human, creative, and natural rhythms are inextricably interconnected. We see this in form when walking into Eshericks studio. Visual rhythms echo throughout the building in features as varied as the repeating sculptured treads of Eshericks iconic Spiral Staircase (1930) and the dappled paint of the silo, whose color reflects the annual rhythm of autumns changing leaves. While the 25 artists featured in this exhibition each think differently about this concept, each skillfully uses Eshericks chosen medium of wood to invite us into the patterns shaping their own lives and thoughts. A selection of the prizewinning works will be on display in the museum visitor center, with the remaining artworks included in a virtual exhibition. Like Esherick, moving between two- and three-dimensional work, Rhythms first-place winner Chelsea Witt works in both printmaking and furniture to explore core ideas. Conflict Can Amplify Love and Reaction, a block print and a bench, each feature flowing parallel lines which change as they meet an intrusive round object. Whether this form is an obstacle or a partner for collaboration, we are invited to follow the new pathways created by this encounter. Second-place winner Raul De Lara engages the rhythms of emotion that come with big life changes, especially grief, in ways that are both tangible and abstract. As rocking chairs, The Wait (Again) and Tornado suggest the lulling, pleasurable motion that we associate with coaxing a small child to sleep. This is countered by the cactus spikes that cover each work, promising a rhythm that moves back and forth between pleasurable soothing and painful discomfort. Discontinued, by third-place winner George Lorio, explores how the rhythms of the natural world are disrupted by human intervention through the creation of an object that is both of nature and fundamentally man-made. Lorio upends the perpetual cycle of growth and decay by resurrecting plant matter into fictitious renderings of trees, stumps, and logs. Talia Drurys The Sound of Nature, which received an honorable mention, is both a functioning instrument and a testament to Drurys own experiences observing the rhythms of the summer landscape in Deer Isle, Maine, while studying at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. This guitar reflects in its form the rhythms of Drurys hand carving and the environment in which it was made, but also has the capacity to pulse with life in new ways when strummed. The philosopher Rudolf Steiner, whose ideas influenced Esherick as well as many of the artistic movements with which he was linked, wrote in 1906 that One can ascend to a higher development only by bringing rhythm and repetition into ones life. Rhythm holds sway in all nature. All 25 artists featured in Rhythms explore this idea materially and conceptually, offering insight into the cadence of their practice and their creative aspirations. They invite us to ponder the rhythms at play in our own lives, the patterns that shape who we are, and how effectively wood can engage this expansive idea. Rhythms is a virtual exhibition viewable at www.whartonesherickmuseum.org/programs. A selection of the artworks awarded first, second, and third place, and honorable mention will also be on display onsite in the WEM visitor center, which is open during the museums tour hours. Please note, all visitors must have advance tour reservations to enter the studio. Details about visiting can be found at www.whartonesherickmuseum.org. Many of the works showcased in Rhythms will be available for purchase through the WEM store along with new jewelry and home-goods made by artists featured in the exhibition and a catalog featuring the work of all 25 artists. The Wharton Esherick Museum is located at 1520 Horse Shoe Trail, Malvern, Pa.


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