Michael Bauermeister


Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI
The Mason Collection
Mesa Museum of Contemporary Art, Mesa, AZ
Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
University of Michigan Museum, Ann Arbor, MI
The Wornick Collection


While studying sculpture at the Kansas City Art Institute I worked in all kinds of media and materials but soon settled on wood as a favorite. I liked the natural beauty of it and the contemplative process of working it using traditional methods. I have since evolved into using some not-so-traditional methods but with some precautions it can still be an enjoyable process. By the time I graduated I was working in wood exclusively.

Moving from school into the real world I found it impossible to make a living as a sculptor. But I found that I could satisfy some of those same urges to build things in three-dimensional space by making furniture. And people would actually pay me to do it. So for about 15 years that's what I did, struggling to make ends meet while supporting my family.

While playing around in my studio with a technique I'd come up with to make a different kind of wooden bowl I stumbled onto the path that would lead me back to the more sculptural work I make today. For awhile I made vessels and furniture both but for the past 15 years all I've done is this very satisfying, creative work.

I make wooden vessels because I have to make something and I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't much matter what. These sculptural forms offer the viewer a place to start, the iconic and comfortable bowl and container, and from there I'm free to explore any idea or mood I can imagine. Since my background is a cabinetmaker I usually build a vessel up out of several pieces of wood which is then carved, turned and sometimes painted before being lacquered and polished. I like to work in a scale not usually associated with wood bowls, forcing the viewer to see them in a new light.

In my new wall pieces I approach the wood as a canvas. These undulating wood panels are carved, sometimes turned, and finished with layers of tinted lacquer which is partially sanded away before the piece gets a final stain and clear finish. The panel is not quite flat but usually has the flowing quality of draped fabric or the surface of the sea.

I think of them as picture planes and as wooden objects in their own right. I think of them as fields of color, sometimes inspired by the real fields around my studio, sometimes by other textures I see in nature such as the leafy canopies of trees and light reflecting off the surface
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