October 13, 2021

Miriam Carpenter Exhibit At Michener Art Museum

“FEATHERS”: Works by Miriam Carpenter are featured in “Shaping the Ethereal,” her first solo show at the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa. The exhibition is on view through March 20.

The Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., now presents “Miriam Carpenter: Shaping the Ethereal,” an exhibition showcasing sculpture, furniture, prints, and drawings by woodworker, designer, and artist Miriam Carpenter. It is on view through March 20.

In this exhibition, her first solo show at the Michener Art Museum, Carpenter explores the possibilities within materials as she seeks to create new forms and solve challenging design problems. Appearing deceptively simple at first glance, each of Carpenter’s pieces involve complex calculations and an intimate understanding of her chosen material.

Laura Igoe, Michener’s chief curator and curator of the exhibition, said, “Miriam Carpenter’s work is strikingly beautiful and amazingly complex. She draws inspiration from the natural world and encourages viewers to be more attuned to the beauty that surrounds us, from the smallest feather to the largest tree.”

A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, Carpenter developed her deep appreciation for materials during the seven years she designed furniture with Mira Nakashima, daughter of woodworker, architect, and furniture maker George Nakashima (1905-1990). At George Nakashima Woodworkers studio in New Hope, Pa., Carpenter learned to read the life of a tree through the knots, veins, and rings of its wood.

Carpenter discovered that “each tree has its own experience and characteristics uniquely formed by its geographical location, the effects of the seasons, wind, rain, and what grew beside it. The history of each year is physically recorded in each ring slowly reacting to external and internal stresses after it has died and been cut into lumber. Reading this story in the grain is just as exciting to me as transforming it into an artifact.”

In 2012, she began carving small, intricate feathers, featured in the exhibition, that incorporate the wood’s grain pattern and structure into the object’s final design. These wood feathers are exceedingly thin and finely detailed. To Carpenter, they symbolize “that which is ethereal … a testament to the resilience of nature.”

On November 11, at 6 p.m., Michener Art Museum will host a Women in Craft Panel Discussion, bringing together women experts and expert practitioners in contemporary woodworking. Moderated by Emily Zilber, director of curatorial affairs and strategic partnerships at the Wharton Esherick Museum, panelists include Mira Nakashima, president and creative director of George Nakashima Woodworkers; Jennifer-Navva Milliken, artistic director of the Center for Art in Wood; and Carpenter.

The Michener Art Museum is located at 138 South Pine Street in Doylestown, Pa. Hours are Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. For more information, visit MichenerArtMuseum.org or call (215) 340-9800.