Red Diamonds – Train Chair
Walnut, bent plywood, silk
3' x 5' x 5'
Joy, human connection, and self-discovery are at the center of my work. The intrinsic behavior of furniture, especially chairs with their ability to draw people in, provides the perfect platform for engagement.
I grew up surrounded by Old Colony Furniture, made by my grandparents’ company. It was period reproduction furniture, but was often interactive and had many moving parts: tambour doors, slide-out tables, and adjustable headboards. A child of divorced parents, I spent summers with my father where I had no friends and would play with the furniture. The pieces ended up having a major role in my imaginary play world. They were also the most valued objects our home and later as I became an artist it made sense that I would express myself through furniture.
My work has always been playful but not until losing my beloved stepfather, my father, and getting divorced within a span of two years did I realize creating furniture helped me cope with the pains of life by making people laugh and smile. Ever since I have wanted to draw in as many people as I can and create joyful experiences.
With these goals I made coin-operated vibrating tables that broke everything on them, chairs with hidden whoopee cushions, a 54-inch heart-shaped whoopee cushion that said “Love Stinks” and even a chaise lounge completely designed by the magic eight ball. I made a chair that cracked like an egg when sat on. The result was a cement shell adhered to foam which squished once cracked but still appeared hard. Sitters, not realizing the chair had cushion until the last moment, experienced an instant of fear and astonishment, followed by relief and joy.
This chair sparked years of exploration into “upholstering” with hard materials consisting of small tiles of wood, metal or concrete tessellated together into intricate patterns. In exploring alternative upholstery I created “Nest” and “Scale Lounge” by layering thousands of hand-sewn metal scales, and “Oshibana” by upholstering with handmade paper flowers. These were adorned sculptural forms. Desiring to bring the focus back to the human body I created the ‘Static Adornment’ series: furniture that adorns the user. The object dictates the person’s position and decorates the spaces around and between the body. “Cathedral Train Chair” imagines the chair as a garment and the “Windsor Flower Chair” sprinkles fresh flowers around the sitter.
Making furniture to adorn the body has accidentally caused me to make design decisions based on how a person will look in the photo. This has forced me to examine the effect the daily barrage of internet imagery has had on my work. My newest piece “The Hideous Beautiful New Reality” looks to poke fun at these issues by exaggerating them. The front is "pretty" and "selfieworthy", with faux gold and copper scales and blue velvet upholstery, while the back is intentionally ugly and poorly constructed. The chair only looks “good” from certain angles. Just like the rest of us.