John Wesley Williams
" I learned right from the beginning that the beauty of wood is as much tactile as it is visual, and that has guided my work since then. The first thing you want to do is touch a piece of my work."
The first thing mankind was able to shape for his own use was wood. Williams likes thinking about the ways we have shaped wood into utilitarian pieces, such as handles for tools. Think about the shape and feel of a favorite axe handle. This is what the artist is after. He is drawn to modernist architects such as Antonio Gaudi, who recognized how the use of texture can transform a work. The sculpting does not get in the way of the functionality. The piece works fine for what it was designed for--it's just more fun to work at it.
Averse to using stain on his pieces, Williams spends much time matching woods at mills. If he can find the right wood, the piece begins from what he has learned from the past. This makes furniture building a process of discovery--and much more exciting. His construction employs traditional techniques such as hand-cut dovetails. If there is a hard way, that is the direction Williams will take. The piece is then sculpted and finished with a rubbed oil.
Williams earned a B. A. from Tulane University and went on to attend Humber College. Following that, he apprenticed with a Mr. Coe, who built reproduction pieces. After this apprenticeship Williams joined a woodworking cooperative in Portland, Maine, but soon after moved to Florida. After one year of building furniture for EPCOT, Williams opened his own shop and began exhibiting work at art festivals.
Selected Exhibitions & Awards
Philadelphia Museum Craft Show, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum, 1998
ACC Baltimore, Baltimore, Md., Baltimore convention center, 1999
Festival of the Masters, Florida, Buena Vista , 1990
Sausolito Arts Festival, Sausolito, Ca., Sausolito, 2003
Cherry Creek Festival of the arts, Denver, Co., Cherry Creek, 2003