Wood, stainless steel,
The seeds for Ripples were planted years ago during one of the many workshops I attended as a student at Arrowmont, so I am honored to be able to bring things full circle and enter this piece in the 2021 Arrowmont Instructors Exhibition.
During a class exercise gathering photos for “texture inspiration” for carved wood art in the nearby Smoky Mountains, I was fascinated by the rippling patterns caused by the interplay of the sunlight shining down through the trees and the crystal clear water of a mountain stream burbling over some rocks to create dancing electric lines of pure energy on the stream bed.
I discussed this with my teacher (Jacques Vesery) and he said that water was one of the most difficult things to represent in wood art. However, my mind was made up! I would find a way to do it. (I must clarify that Jacques did not attempt to discourage or dissuade me, he is a wonderful teacher and mentor and was merely stating a fact based on his experience).
Fast forward to all of my recent utilitarian work with curly maple bowls and I realized that the same electric pattern of pure energy I had observed that day in the stream bed was right in front of me in the rippling figure of the wood and the idea for my new series was born, so it is both the coming to fruition of this seed planted long ago and my ode to the fiery chatoyant beauty of figured maple.
On a more symbolic level, Ripples has to do with the human condition, these lives we all share as we influence one another on a daily basis with actions that may seem small to us but could go on to have a profound effect like ripples propagating out from droplets of water in a pond towards infinity. If our actions to one another are kind and we continue to seek and demand a more just society as so many of us have during our sudden awakening in these unprecedented times, I have no doubt that our future society will coalesce into a beautiful new way of life that truly fulfills the ideals of liberty, truth, beauty, and equality.
Chris Hoehle is a sculptural artist from Denver Colorado. He works primarily in domestic American hardwoods, both commercial kiln-dried wood, and fresh cut or “green” urban lumber salvaged by the artist himself from local homeowners and arborists from trees that had to be removed for various reasons such as storm damage or age. In particular, he is fascinated by the fiery chatoyance of wood such as curly maple and cottonwood, which he often enhances and highlights with the bold color of translucent metal-complex wood dyes, many times building multiple layers of undulating colors that further enhance the tendency of these beautiful grain patterns to appear as shimmering mirages that change their appearance according to different angles of the light. The rich warmth of eastern cherry is another favorite, as are green or white ash and Siberian elm, and the warm tones of milk paint make a frequent appearance in his work as well, in a nostalgic nod to the Shaker traditions of our American history of fine furniture design.
While he maintains a reverence for the wonderful, warm, and giving material that is wood, he increasingly views the woodturned form as a starting point only. A blank canvass to be carved, colored, burned or textured, or incorporated in to mixed media sculptures along with stainless steel, copper and brass, in diverse and eclectic bodies of work that range from the simple utilitarian elegance of his bowls, plates and other functional tableware, to his joyful and whimsical series of wall-hanging sculptures, to carved and painted vessels and sinuous forms that incorporate the color palettes of rust and metal and invoke seed pods, steampunk scenes, or strange but benevolent creatures found in the outer reaches of the galaxy or other dimensions!