6 Artists Who Are Pushing the Limits of Wood

This new generation continues to push the limits of wood, employing a dizzying variety of conceptual and technical approaches. Below, six artists describe their strong relationships to the material, despite (and in some cases, because of) its challenges.

B. 1975, based in Kingston, New York


Christopher Kurtz, Singularity, 2013. Courtesy of the artist.

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’s studio, shares the older artist’s commitment to manual skill. “The human hand is still infinitely more complex than any multi axis CNC machine— so I continue to work wood by hand—not to be nostalgic, but because the result is much more nuanced and spontaneous for me,”  Kurtz explains. “The process I use would look very familiar to the craftsperson of 100 years ago.”

Kurtz’s sculptures look impossible, like models of yet unproven astrological theories. They are often confoundingly slender, the wood either ending in tiny points or curling around itself like loose ribbon. His furniture line, originally started in 2008 to support his art, is sturdier, but employs the same attentive craftsmanship.

Kurtz enjoys working within the restrictions of the medium—for example, responding to the way wood swells or shrinks in response to changes in its environment, or selecting the most adept wood species for a particular job. Inspired by wood’s challenges as much as by its malleability, he notes: “I like bumping up against the rules and seeing how far I can challenge the conventions as a way to find compelling forms.”

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