Conservation By Design
Wood is often referred to as a renewable resource, although both temperate and tropical forests aroudn the world are disappearing at an alarming rate due to the strains of consumption and lack of concerted resource management. On a global level, environmental problems are becoming more difficult to solve as social, political, and economic issues become more complex in a war-torn, industrialized world. While Americans commonly assume that the most pressing problems of rainforest destruction exist in another hemisphere, we continue to deplete our own temperate forests, including the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest, faster than they renew themselves. The good news is that forests, unlike mineral or petroleum deposits, grow back, and their yields are sustainable if properly managed. If more commercial forests were responsibly managed for long-term benefit and incentives existed for wood producers, consumers and distributors to work together, other forests, including the rare surviving old-growth forests, could be preserved for future generations.
This exhibition features recent work in wood by more than seventy artists from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Korea. In presenting their diverse approaches to complicated issues of forest conservation and management, we hope to stimulate creative dialogue about responsible wood selection, including the promotion of lesser-known species, certified plantation-grown hardwoods, and salvaged or recycled materials. The objects in this and the adjoining galleries illuminate the complexities of global forest conservation issues, in some instances by means of imagery but more often in practical terms by the artist's selection of a particular material. An important step in saving tropical forests is improved use of existing timbers, particularly the lesser-known species, and woods from certified sources, the demand for which woodworkers in this exhibition are helping to create. Together these works of art embody the positive role that responsible artists, craftspeople, and industrial designers can play in the education of consumers as we seek informed responses to urgent issues of global resource conservation.
Conservation by Design is an invitational and juried event. Twenty-eight of the seventy-six artists were invited to submit work. The others were accepted by jury. Both juried and invited artists were asked to submit functional objects that address the interrelated issues of temperate and tropical wood consumption and responsible forest management. Entries were selected for their creative and aesthetically pleasing exploration of these issues. The use of certified, recycled, salvaged, or reconstituted material and of lesser-known or underused wood species was encouraged. Artists were required to document the sources of supply for their materials. Each entry was further evaluated in light of the artist's written statement about the work and its relationship to the stated criteria. Dimensions for each entry indicate outside measurements and are listed in the following sequence: height, width, depth or diameter. Each piece is in the collection of the artist unless otherwise noted. All photographs of artists' work are by Dean Powell unless otherwise noted.