Exhibit highlights women in woodworking
This detail shows the fine craftsmanship in a curved desk designed and built by Kate Davidson.

Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, the Center for Art in Wood in Philadelphia is presenting an exhibit called “Making a Seat at the Table: Women Transform Woodworking,” showcasing the work of 43 artists throughout North America.

Billed as the first exhibition of its scope, the show intends to present the “breadth of perspectives and practices that North American women and women-identifying woodworkers in the furniture tradition are employing,” according to Katie Sorenson at the Center for Art in Wood. “While ackowledging that woodworking has been and remains male-dominated, the exhibition focuses on the many ways these makers are both expanding the edges of the field and holding down the center.”

This jewelry cabinet by Kristina Madsen is featured in the “Making a Seat at the Table” exhibit and publication.

The show includes not only examples of the artists’ finished work but also explores the processes of work. One special event connected with the exhibit is a presentation by Tara Inman-Bellofatto on January 11 and 12 titled Marquetry 101. The show itself opened October 4 and runs to January 18, 2020.

Also connected to the show is the publishing of a comprehensive book by the same title to be released in 2020, which is the initiative of co-authors and co-curators Laura Mays and Deirdre Viser.

Mays is a woodworker, designer, educator, and writer. She is the director of the Fine Woodworking Program at the Krenov School, Mendocino College in Fort Braff, California (formerly the College of the Redwoods). Her work is represented in the National Museum of Ireland and in private and public collections in the U.S. and Ireland. She has written for Fine Woodworking  and other publications. She is also the founding president of the Krenove Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports the craft of woodworking.

Viser is a curator, writer, community-based artist, and woodworker. As curator of The Arts at CIIS in San Francisco and publisher of CHROMA books, she strives to promote pluralism in the arts, to support artists in the creation of new and experimental work and to foster dynamic and critical dialogues, according to a press release.


Laura Kishimoto’s creation “Yumi III” shows some of the inventive creativity on display in the exhibit.

Artists featured in the show and book include: Jennifer Anderson, Teresa Audet, Connie Chisholm, Vivian Chiu, Emma Chorostecki, Alex Clarke, Kate Davidson, Leigh Dotey, Heidi Earshaw, Ashley Eriksmoen, Bec Evans, Annie Evelyn, Mollie Ferguson, Heather Trosdahl, Gail Fredell, Melanie Hamilton, BA Harrinton, Katie Hudnall, Erin Irber, Laura Kishimoto, Yuri Kobayashi, Chris Lee, RH Lee, Bowen Liu, Kristina Madsen, Sarah Marriage, Heide Martin, Sarah Martin, Wendy Maruyama, Yvonne Mouser, Christy Oates, Jodie Prud’homme, SIOSI, Rosanne Somerson, Michaela Crie Stone, Tina WPA, Katrina Tompkins, Briana Trujillo, Hannah Vaughan, Sarah Watlington, Leslie Webb, Folayemi Wilson, Kimberly Winkle, and Kat Wong.

This glass and wood cabinet was designed and crafted by Erin Irber.

A committee of professionals in the art, design, woodworking, and furniture fields served as jury to select the works for the exhibition. In addition to the co-curators and co-authors, jurors included Tom Loeser, artist and professor of art and woodworking at the University of Wisconsin, Madison; Jennifer-Navva Milliken, artistic director the Center for Art in Wood; and New York-based artist, art promoter, and designer Cheryl R. Riley.

Katie Hudnall’s Spirits Cabinet combines both rustic and refined elements in its design.

“Making a Seat at the Table: Women Transform Woodworking” is made possible with assistance from The Krenov Foundation and a grant from the Furniture Society through its EFASO program. A Craft Research Fund grant from the Center for Craft facilitated the research for the exhibit and related publication.

Gail Fridell’s tansu cabinet takes a new look at a traditional Asian design.

The exhibition program at the Center for Art in Wood is supported by the Cambium Giving Society of the Center for Art in Wood, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and Windgate Charitable Foundation. Corporate support is provided by Boomerang Inc., Penn State Industries, Signarama Center City, and Sun-lite Corporation.

For more information, visit womenwoodworking.org.



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William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editorial director of Woodworking Network and FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.