Swell I, 2020
Coopered vertical grain douglas fir
Bent Out of Shape: Site Specific Installations with Curved Wood / August 8 – 13, 2021
The Swell Series, conceived during a summer of lake swimming and the Covid pandemic, draws on Lake Michigan’s dynamic personality. Swell I is composed from a single board of Douglas fir hand-selected for its particular rhythmic grain, which rises and falls across the curved form like small ripples carried by larger swells. Whole unto itself while in playful tension with the wall on which it hangs, Swell I references the joyful instability of a body cutting through an expanse of open water, away from the familiarity of dry land.
Phoebe’s work is carefully reconstructed from solid wood and smoothed with keenly honed hand planes. The work is placed in active dialog with its site, alternately hugging and pulling away from the wall—departing from the fine furniture tradition in which she was trained, where work is often made independent of the context in which it will eventually be placed. In her art practice as in life, Phoebe manipulates gathered material with care, toward ends of her own design, in the ongoing project of crafting a coherent gesture from disparate parts.
Phoebe Kuo is a woodworker based in Evanston, IL. She studied design at Stanford University and Cranbrook Academy of Art, and fine woodworking at The Krenov School in California. Past awards include Haystack Open Studio Residency, ACRE Residency, and a research grant from the Center for Craft. Her work has been shown at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, ICFF, and FLXST Contemporary.