Minimal Wood Sculptures by Artist Paul Foeckler

January 16, 2015 § Leave a comment

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Artist Paul Foeckler has been kind enough to interview with me! The work in his shop, Split Grain, is refreshingly minimal and unique. Please give his shop and website a visit!

 I love your light sculptures, there’s something so beautiful, unique, and modern about seeing light coming through a piece of sculpted wood. What are your main inspirations and philosophies behind creating these sculptures, and what would you as an artist like communities around the world to know about you and your work?  

Thank you for your kind words. Split Grain is allowing me to explore the hidden beauty in nature in a way that has contemporary design appeal – which I hope helps people notice nature’s subtle beauty more and incorporate it into their modern lives and interior spaces. The project began one day when I was putting an ordinary piece of firewood into the fireplace and thought it too beautiful to burn. The shape the piece took on after splitting it intrigued me but when I started sawing and experimenting with it I found the cross sections revealed incredible shapes that would otherwise go unnoticed. The repetition of slicing the pieces helped to accentuate these hidden details. I started by suspending the pieces from steel armatures and soon discovered how light could accentuate the forms even more and add a whole new dimension. The works are minimal, formal and a bit architectural which mimics a tree’s natural form as well. I hope my pieces help bring nature into people’s contemporary lifestyles and surroundings as well as remind them of the amazing presence of trees.

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You mention on your Etsy shop page that you have been featured in different blogs and magazines, a couple magazines being California Home & Design and Arts Illustrated. What different responses to your work and philosophies have you received from this exposure? 

Most of the exposure I have been fortunate to receive has been with art & design-focused media. I have appreciated the exposure on many blogs but the one that created the most impact for me was This Is Colossal. Chris featured my work very shortly after I launched it and his feature created a real jumping off point. The CAH&D magazine project was interesting as they commissioned artists to do California-centric versions of their work. They approached me and wanted one of my sculptures in the shape of the state of California. At first, I thought it was the worst idea and completely gimmicky but after talking with the editor and seeing previous examples it turned out to be an interesting challenge. Like any creative project, sometimes limitations are good. I’ve been very fortunate as most of the responses I have received comment upon how they have never seen anything like my work before which motivates me to do and explore more.

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This Slice sculpture reveals fascinating contours and amazing growth patterns of a piece of reclaimed California Coastal Monterey Cypress. Details of the outer form and inner grain are thoughtfully exposed. Intriguing from any angle, these diminutive specimens elegantly reveal the wood’s splendid interior rings and odd exterior landscape which occurs from my random splitting technique.

Can you talk a little bit about the reclaimed wood that you use in your pieces?  

All of the wood that I use is reclaimed and I have to say foraging for it is fun but definitely a lot of work.
My favorite wood to work with is California Coastal Monterey Cypress. I used to spend a lot of time on the coast of northern CA at a place called The Sea Ranch. There are hedgerows of Cypress trees there to break the wind from the ocean. Their lives are often ended abruptly in storms. The firewood I thought too beautiful to burn was from one of those Cypress trees. It is a beautiful semi-hard wood that is not considered good for lumber so I am able to reclaim it for sculptures when trees are taken down.
Most recently I found some amazing Incense Cedar from the Angeles National Forrest in Los Angeles where I live now. Forest fires in 2009 destroyed a large portion of that forest but at 5,000 feet elevation there were large cedar trees that were scorched and died standing up. Their bark charred but completely protected and dried the core wood inside. The Cedar has a light aroma to it and has a beautiful grain which gets emphasized when lit in my light sculptures.

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Are you currently working on or planning any new projects?  

What’s consuming my time and energy right now is scaling sculptures up to larger sizes. I have been working on commissions for larger pieces that have been a lot of fun but a lot more challenging. On the horizon I hope to have another project that attempts to reveal nature’s hidden beauty in a different way. I have a feeling it will have to do with motion.

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My Splay sculptures capture the dramatic variations in form that can occur between the top and bottom of a piece of California Coastal Monterey Cypress. I look for pieces that have dramatically different shapes as they begin and end and I reserve them for these sculptures. Each tier is a deconstruction of an entire piece of wood however when viewed from the ends the piece seems to magically reassemble itself. The progression of exterior shape and interior growth rings can be viewed individually and as a singular whole.

Thank you so much for stopping by, please like and share and make sure to visit Paul in his online Etsy shop!

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