kelly parker, artist statement

As a designer and maker of contemporary studio furniture, my work is all about transformation and discovery: transformation of the wood from a rough board to the final object, my personal transformation as I struggle with the creation of my latest idea, discoveries I make as I start working with a particular board, and discoveries my audience makes when they start exploring my pieces.  I create objects that are dense in details and I want people to delight in them — the colors, the textures, the satiny-smooth feel of the finished surface, the interplay of light and shadow.

I approach my work much like a sculptor.  Foremost, I want to create a beautiful, engaging form.  It just happens to manifest itself as furniture.  Inspiration for my work comes from many sources: the built environment, fashion, nature, history or observation of the world around me.  A three-foot tall vase inspires the design of a wooden hinge.  An evening gown informs the back of a dining chair.  A flower inspires a series of small tables.  A dried creek bed viewed from above is reinterpreted as a sculpture.  Part of my job is to be observant of shape and form, no matter the source, and give that form a voice.

contemporary studio furniture

Because my work is sculptural it often features curved elements.  As such, I use traditional wood-forming techniques such as steam bending, vacuum forming, laminate bending and kerf bending.  These techniques allow me to create sinuous, sensual curves while maintaining the structural integrity of the wood.  Although wood is my primary medium I often incorporate other materials such as glass, acrylic and metal into my work.

My work starts by revealing the wood.  The lumber I use has rough bandsaw marks and may be dirty or stained from being outside.  It looks pretty uninspiring.  So my first discovery as an artist occurs when I clean the surface to reveal the hidden beauty below this patina.  That’s when I start to be creative as I plan on how to best show off lush grain, an amazing knot or other unique features that particular board has to offer.  Knots, splits, nail holes or bark are what allow the wood to tell its story but they are often defined as defects by other woodworkers.  I consider them beauty marks!

reclaimed wood, the artist’s medium

Finally, the wood itself is important to me.  I prefer found wood, reclaimed wood or wood given as a gift from a tree that had to be cut down.  This old wood has a soul and a story.  For me as an artist the story behind a piece is as important as the piece itself.  I believe that knowing a piece’s back-story – where the material came from, what it used to be, the process used to create the object – creates a stronger bond between the owner and the object.  In our mass-produced, made-in-China, plastic world there is something enduring about the authenticity and intimacy of objects lovingly created by hand. An object created in such an environment should have its story shared.