J. Paul Fennell

I have focused primarily on turning hollow forms for the last 30 of the 48 years that I have been a woodturner.  The vessel form is intriguing to me in that it is a common artifact of humanity, timeless and ubiquitous culturally.  When these artifacts are discovered or unearthed, we learn much from societies of the past because of their particular form and unpretentious embellishment of cultural symbols, sacred icons and images that were important to them in their everyday lives.  It seems natural to me to follow this path of creating work, through form and embellishment, that relates similarly but individually to my own experiences, relationships, beliefs and things that are personally significant.

 In the process of making, it is important to me that the material I use has minimal impact on the environment.  Toward that end, my source of wood is salvaged from the local “urban forest,” a resource that is amazingly diverse, even within the harsh climate conditions of metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona.

My current work appropriates ideas and concepts through patterns derived from nature, architecture and the interplay of energy and movement, an important relationship that relates to the dynamics between nature and the environment.  My work has been featured in nearly every major magazine and book with respect to woodturning.  My art resides in major private collections nationally and internationally, and in many museum collections, including the Smithsonian, Detroit Institute of Arts, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Cincinnati Art Museum, Museum of Art & Design, New York, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA, and the Carnegie Museum of Art. 

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