Hayward Zwerling’s Creations

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Why do I make things?

I need an object…

Sometimes I “need” or want an object. For example, 

After the need is identified, I then attempt to come up with a unique idea which will make the object unique or interesting to the viewer.

An idea/concept needs to be physicalized…

Sometimes I become aware of an idea or concept which I can only expunge from my mind’s eye by bring the idea into reality. For example, I visited the Picasso sculpture exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and realized that Picasso serially eliminated the unessential elements of an object until all that was left was the object’s essence. With this concept in mind, I decided I needed to create a sculpture that was “the essence” of a giraffe. This led to the creation of George the Giraffe & Big Poppy and then to Elly the Elephant, all now live on Somerville Community Path at Cedar St.

I had an idea to create a chest of drawers which were of random sizes and arrangement. Thus my rosewood chest of drawers which, unfortunately, is symmetric around its center-point.

My cutting board and coasters arose from an attempt to make an item that appeared to be constructed from pieces of wood that were seemingly random in their size and arrangement.

My picture frames were (mostly) designed to challenge the traditional dogma that the purpose of a frame is purely to enhance the contained picture. I believe that the frame should make a statement on its own, or in collaboration with the painting.

For example, the sculpture on Wall Street called “Fearless Girl” is a strong statement in and of itself.  The same is true of “Charging Bull,” also on Wall Street. But when the two sculptures are placed facing each other, there is a new, more profound message.

Fearless Girl by Kristen Visbal. Charging Bull by Arturo Di Modica.

A much less dramatic example of this is shown in my  frame for Gail’s Six Flasks painting. In this frame the brass component extends in front of the painting and maybe suggests to the viewer that they are looking through a window at the flasks. 

This concept, that the frame makes a statement on its own, can also be seen in my rotated frame in which the edges of the painted canvas are not parallel to the  edge of the frame, forcing the viewer to decide if the bottom of the painted canvas or the bottom of the frame should be parallel to the ground – for it cannot be both. 

I will leave it to the observer to decide if this enhances or detracts from the viewing experience.

A piece of wood has commanded me to…

Sometimes a piece of wood tells me what to do. For example, the two sided rocking-horse like frame on my wife’s oil painting of my son was created from a curved branch from a walnut tree which had no other use but did not deserve to be discarded.

A highly figured piece of wood from the black locust tree was too beautiful to be discarded and it needed to be incorporated into an object, a vanity chair, to ensure its continued existence

Theory of my creations: The engagement of the viewer…

In designing my creations, whether it is a coaster, picture frame, piece of furniture, or sculpture, I try to ensure that the object will engage the viewer either intellectually or emotionally.

Theory of my creations: This must be fun for me…

For me, the “fun” part of woodworking is the design and expeditious creation of the first prototype – ie bring the mental concept into a physical reality. Accordingly I will choose to use the tool or technique that will enable me achieve this goal with as little effort as possible. I am not interested in making the perfect dovetail, thus professional woodworkers would likely sneer at the construction quality of my creations, and they are correct. Thus, all of my creations are “prototypes” as they were created as expeditiously as possible and likely include imperfections.

I hope that you find my objects engaging. If so then I have succeeded.

Hayward Zwerling, May 2023

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