6 Artists Who Are Pushing the Limits of Wood

B. 1975, based in Brooklyn, New York

Rachel Beach, Q, Demi, Feste, 2014-16. Photo by Steve Farmer. Courtesy of the artist.

Rachel Beach, Bloom, Echo, 2016. Photo by Steve Farmer. Courtesy of the artist.
Beach first learned woodworking by building painting panels, and later by working construction. Her interest flows from a practical connection to the material. “I like wood’s factual, elemental relationship to building and manual labor,” she says. “It’s historical and human in scale; one human can build one thing out of wood.”

>Beach’s work often references the ways and means of architecture, and she’s particularly interested in transitional elements in the built environment—“seams that transition space to plane, edges that frame an experience or vista, the place the floor meets the wall, or where a hallway opens to a room,” she explains. The references in her current work are broad-ranging, from ancient armor and shields to symbolic languages such as hieroglyphs, marine flags, and typography.

In Beach’s human-scaled, geometric sculptures, you’ll find angles, patterns, and colors reminiscent of

Memphis

furniture, and incised shapes that suggest minimalist totem poles or modern skyscrapers. For Beach, this affinity with the built environment is also conceptual: “In addition to the more obvious spatial, structural, and material relationships my work has to architecture, it also [combines] the commonplace with the magical.”

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