Branching Out

Bowls Upload 12_2014-17


Michael Salemi

Not infrequently, folks who view my work at galleries or art fairs ask about the function of some of my pieces. Of course, they don’t ask about bowls, ikebana, vases and other pieces with obvious functionality. But they do ask me about pieces like the one pictured. They want to know its use.

Woodturning is both a craft and an art. As an artist, the woodturner endeavors to create a form that is pleasing to the eye. The form might be pleasing because of the character of the wood employed, or because of the shape of the vessel, or because it showcases the artist’s skill, or simply because it is.

We don’t ask painters what their paintings are for. We understand that they are meant to please the eye—nothing more and nothing less. It is the same with woodturning. While woodturners frequently make vessels that are meant to be used in everyday life, they try even harder to make their vessel beautiful—to delight the eyes of those who see them and acquire them.

So what is the pictured vessel? Is it a plate with a box? Is it a serving bowl for nuts? Is it a leaf and a flower? Yes to all but the more important question is: “Is it pleasing?” Please come and view my featured artist show at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts between now and May 22. Perhaps your eyes will be delighted.


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