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Massachusetts Furniture. Studio Furniture of the Bay State

Massachusetts Furniture. Studio Furniture of the Bay State
Yareah Magazine

Massachusetts Furniture. Fuller Craft Museum presents: Made in Massachusetts. Studio Furniture of the Bay State. October 12, 2013 – February 9, 2014. Reception: October 20, 2013 2:00 – 5:00 pm, featuring a talk by professor Brock Jobe.


Robert March, High-back rocking chair, 1984. Cherry. Photograph by Alex Hochstrasser.

Viewing this century of furniture will make you wonder how one movement of studio furniture could spawn works so remarkably different. View Jay Stanger’s colorful chair designed using ergonomic principles from NASA, which attempts to capture the chaos of life. In the same exhibition, you see a painted steel rod chaise lounge of Eck Follen, which is impossible to sit in. Made in Massachusetts: Studio Furniture of the Bay State features a range of work derived from traditional prototypes as well as works that push the conceptual boundaries of furniture towards sculptural objects. You’ll find exquisite, modern marquetry in wood in Silas Kopf’s “The Aquarium” chest. See a Steve Whittlesey table that includes blueberry twigs from his garden and found shutters. Furniture makers approach basic function with a contemporary flair, bringing to life a surprisingly broad range of furniture from chairs, tables, and cabinets to pieces you don’t encounter every day: library steps, a human-sized candelabra, a music stand, a wall hung folding chair. The 39 pieces in the Made in Massachusetts exhibition feature tremendous diversity in medium, methodology, and historical influences.

This exhibition takes you into the minds of the makers, their historical sensitivities, like the English baroque era clockwork motifs of Lance Patterson and the Thomas Seymour inspired commode by Harold Ionson. Come reflect on modern technological advances and a contemporary focus, while viewing artists who are the product of great institutions such as the North Bennet Street School, Rhode Island School of Design, and the former Program in Artisanry of Boston University, which continues now at UMass Dartmouth.


Richard Tannen, Library Steps, 1983. Cherry. Photograph by Alex Hochstrasser.

Those who have followed the development of Massachusetts furniture will recognize noteworthy figures, such as Judy Kensley McKie, Kristina Madsen, Jere Osgood, Rosanne Somerson, Dale Broholm, Tommy Simpson, Alex Krutsky, John Rais, and Charles Crowley.

Since the mid-1950s, Massachusetts has experienced a growing interest in furniture made by individual studio artists. Much of this flowering reflects new directions in crafts taking place in America. Concurrently, you see two diverging practices that overlap: (1) forms derived from traditional prototypes and continue to dominate the field, such as custom bench work perpetuated in the North Bennet Street School and (2) works from the Program in Artisanry that encouraged gifted makers to design and build a new wave of stylistically innovative furniture. With “Made in Massachusetts: Studio Furniture of the Bay State,” Fuller Craft Museum makes important connections in this story of tradition and innovation featuring works by studio furniture artists working not only in Boston, but also throughout Massachusetts. Their works represent rich and diverse contributions to the field of fine furniture making over the past 40 years.

This exhibition is a product of Four Centuries of Massachusetts Furniture, a collaborative project of Fuller Craft Museum and ten other institutions that features exhibitions, lectures, demonstrations, and publications to celebrate the Bay State’s legacy of furniture making. For more information visit www.fourcenturies.org


Charles-Crowley, Arc Back Chair. Photo-Dean-Powell

(Brockton, Mass.) Fuller Craft Museum, New England’s home for contemporary craft Museum Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, Thursday 5:00 – 9:00 pm

View Comments (1)
  • Isadora

    So beatufiul exhibition. Love it!

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