SCULPTURE II: Passages: The Wood Project


The purpose of this project is two-fold: First, to introduce you to most of the equipment available to you in the Woodshop relating to woodworking. Second, and more importantly, to introduce you to the properties and possibilities of wood as a sculptural material and to introduce you to artists in modern and contemporary sculpture who are using this material in new and exciting ways.

Our readings will focus heavily on Japanese sculpture where the materiality of wood has played a prominent role in sculpture and architecture. Your first assignment is to read/look as much as you possibly can and to continue reading and looking throughout the semester at all of the many ways in which wood is used in art and culture.

GO to the library and look for artists working in wood: Shigeo Toya.; Eduardo Chillida; Martin Puryear; Ursula von Rydingsvard; Louise Bourgeois: The Early Work; Richard Deacon; Cristina Iglesias; Primal Spirit: Contemporary Japanese Sculptors; Contemporary Japanese Sculpture; Jackie Winsor; there may be more as we go on. Find an artist whose work inspires you.

Read the assigned readings as required by due dates. Write responses as due.

Research the Tao Te Ching and ponder its transcendental questions. Arthur Zajonc

PART I: TECHNIQUE: Lamination, Joinery, Carving, Finishing

For the first two weeks we will have different demos each day on one of these techniques. We will also begin a collaborative project that will be constructed using plywood lamination.

MATERIALS:The Woodshop will provide you with basic wood materials for the exercise and project. Each student will get a 24" section of 2x4, which will be planed and joined to a true 1.25"x3.125". Anthony will go over the process to construct the box joint. It will be very specific and must be followed exactly to successfully achieve the box joint. In addition, each student will receive one 4'x8'x.75" plywood sheet and two 8'x2"x4" pieces. Students may use these materials or not, and they may purchase other wood if they prefer something specific. Other materials may be incorporated into the final sculpture, but wood must be the main material and have conceptual significance.

Wood Technology Readings: A chart of numerous wood joints. You will have to complete only the box joint. It must be snug enough to hold, no gaps, and not so tight that the wood splits when you tap it together.


“The material itself, stone or wood, does not interest me as such. It is a means; it is not an end. You do not make sculpture because you like wood. That is absurd. You make sculpture because the wood allows you to express something that another material does not allow you to.”

-Louise Bourgeois, Interview by Donald Kuspit.

Based upon the readings, presentations in class, discussions and your own research, write a proposal, make a drawing/design (not just a sketch), make a maquette, and create a wood sculpture that integrates the concept of passage.

What is a passage?

We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel;

But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the wheel depends.

We turn clay to make a vessel;

But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends.

We pierce doors and windows to make a house;

And it is on these spaces where there is nothing that the usefulness of the house depends.

Therefore just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognize the usefulness of what is not.

-Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, No. 11

"The primal generative process revered by those earliest of Chinese sages takes on new dimensions in Lao Tzu's Tao, dimensions that carry it into realms we now speak of as ontology and ecology, cosmology, phenomenology, and social philosophy. Tao originally meant "way," as in "pathway" or "roadway," and Lao Tzu recast it as a spiritual Way by using it to describe that inexplicable generative force seen as an ongoing process (hence a "Way"). This Way might be provisionally described as a kind of generative ontological process through which all things arise and pass away, and Lao Tzu's way is to dwell as a part of that natural process. In that dwelling, self is but a fleeting form taken on by earth’s process of change." (David Hinton, Introduction to Tao Te Ching, 2000, Counterpoint Books, p.x)

"Look at the simplest object. Look, for example, at an old chair. It does not seem to be much. But think about the whole universe that it contains: the hands and the sweat of the person who carved the wood which was once a robust tree, full of energy, in the middle of a thick forest high up in the mountains; the loving work of the person who built it; the pleasure of the person who bought it; the weariness it comforted; the pains and the joys which it probably supported in a great living room, or maybe in a poor dining room in a working class suburb. All, absolutely all of that represents life and has importance. Even the oldest chair carries in it the sap which, far away in the forest, rose from the earth and which will still serve to give heat the day when, having become mere pieces of wood, it will burn in a fireplace." (quote by Antoni Tapies, Catalogue, Martha Jackson Gallery, NY, 1975)


Oct 17• Clean the Foundry. Begin Section in Wood: Dana instructs on Lamination technique. Begin Collaborative Sculpture.

Oct 19• Finish cutting sections and glue monster. Each student signs up for a day to work on the monster. take a picture before and after. Learn how to use the planer and joiner to make square, true piece of lumber from a 2x4. Discuss various wood joints. Introduce the wood project.

Oct 24• Demo box joint, each student will make a perfect box joint, should fit snug: no gaps. due 10/26. Demo on carving techniques. Discuss readings on Japanese Sculpture01, and Japanese Sculpture02

Oct 26• Box joints due. Discuss wood finishing. Experiment with various finishes.

Oct 31• Monster due. Discuss readings Louise Bourgeois and Tony Cragg.

Nov 2• Proposals Due: must be in digital format to present to the group.

Nov 7• Studio work day.

Nov 9• Studio work day.

Nov 14• Studio work day.

Nov 16• Studio work day.

Nov 21• Studio work day.

Nov 23• Studio work day.

Nov 24-25• University Holiday, NO CLASSES.

Nov 28• Studio work day.

Nov 30• Studio work day.

Dec 7• Final Critique••••••••••••••Last day of class.