Woodshop Workshop

An artist’s introduction to (em)power(ment) tools

Artist Takashi Iwasaki's wood-based pieces The Prince of Jupiter (left, 2012) and Yangyang (2014).

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The upcoming Woodshop Workshop at aceartinc. bridges artistry with some basic woodworking and construction skills.

Seth Woodyard, a local interdisciplinary artist and carpenter, will be facilitating the workshop.

“As an artist, there’s countless times where you as a person might need to build something,” Woodyard says.

Woodyard will cover basic woodshop skills, such as how to safely and confidently use power tools and saws and how to join pieces of wood together. Participants will have the opportunity to build something simple of their own, like a canvas stretcher or a wooden box.

Local art enjoyer Takashi Iwasaki uses his woodworking skills to enhance his two-dimensional drawings and embroidery pieces.

“I wanted to make something three-dimensional, and wood is readily available and natural,” he says. “I like the natural feel of the wood and natural colours of the wood, so before clay or something else I reached to wood.”

Iwasaki also builds and carves wooden frames for his pieces. He says he chooses to make his own frames due to “cost as well as the joy of making things.” Making a frame is cheaper than buying one.

Wood is a common material in Woodyard’s art practice, as well.

“If I’m painting, I’m often painting on a wooden surface,” Woodyard says. “When I’m making installations, I’m often using construction-grade lumber and building structures.”

Woodyard notes that a woodshop in an arts space, such as at aceartinc., is a different environment than going to a regular woodshop or lumber yard.

“The people who have tended to have participated in this workshop in the past (have) been mostly women or queer folk,” he says. “I had a couple of men in the last one, which was a pleasant surprise.”

“Part of what we’re trying to do with this is to help provide just the beginning of skills. It’s more of like an impetus to further develop those skills, but at least an introduction to folks in a more accessible and ... more comfortable context rather than say your woodshop from high school with whoever that fellow was teaching,” Woodyard says.

As a local example, Iwasaki gestures to artist Robert Taite, who makes abstract art out of canvas, wood and paint.

“I think he enjoys the materiality and simple shapes and utilizes them to make them very effective in what he does,” he says.

Woodyard points to Louise Nevelson as an example of an artist with an impressive woodworking practice.

“She made these amazing sort of wooden assemblages that employed a cataloguing, hoarding methodology of just collecting items – most commonly wooden items – and assembling them in these really amazing sculptures that ranged from very small intimate scale to monumental installation scale,” he says. Nevelson isn’t local or modern, but “it’s always good to have a little art history.”

The Woodshop Workshop will take place on Nov. 5 from 1-5 p.m. at aceartinc. (2-290 McDermot Ave). The workshop is free to ACI Manitoba and aceartinc. members, and costs $25 for non-members (tip: a membership at ace costs $25). To register, email hannah_g@aceart.org. For information about venue accessibility, visit aceart.org/contact-access.

Published in Volume 72, Number 7 of The Uniter (October 26, 2017)

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