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Kelly Parker


Kansas City





Artist's 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 sculpted hardlines, 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. An engine cowling is reimagined as a barstool. Part of my job is to be observant of shape and form, no matter the source, and give that form a voice. Because my work is sculptural it often features curved elements. As such, I use traditional wood-forming techniques such as steam bending, hot pipe bending, 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 various metals 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! 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. My favorite way to work is to harvest a tree from a client's property, perhaps a tree their grandfather planted, and make heirlooms that pay homage to the tree and its place in the family's history. I love old wood -- it has a soul and a story. And this story is important to me. I write 'the story' for every piece I make -- where the wood came from, my process, my inspiration, etc. I believe knowing the wood’s backstory creates a stronger bond between an object and its owner.

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