Hello and welcome…
During the summer of 2018 my local Library invited me to share my experience of 40 years creating sculpture. I installed storyboards illustrating the process of my large-scale public art projects and smaller physical objects exploring my ongoing study of text, books and the natural world.
The power of the imagination and the reality that it can create was unified in these two very simple and direct presentations. The vulnerability of the storyboards (photos, CAD drawings, poetry, explanatory text, etc.) mounted on matt board with no frame or glass presented the process unencumbered. The smaller sculptures displayed in the vitrine expressed their own process of creation but on a much more intimate and playful scale.
The space between these two realms –the enormous natural world reduced to intimate moments of metaphor along side the larger than life cultural objects of home, cathedral windows, ships, and poetry- was filled with what originally inspired them, the literature on the library’s shelves.
If you would consider including me in your programming at your local library or any other venue in your community, I would appreciate the opportunity to share my experience and passion.
With great pleasure I highly recommend Steven Woodward as a guest speaker for any age and cultural background of audience, he connects impressively well with all people. What he brought to his presentation at our library, his compelling background of blue- collar work, enthusiasm, passion for the arts, and the ongoing liberal education that is at his core was truly amazing. His breadth of knowledge and his absolute directness inspired the audience members who attended his talk, and continues to resonate throughout our community.
Steven and I worked together putting up his storyboards of large-scale public artworks, as well as an intimate installation of his ongoing series on books exploring the union of nature and culture. He was a joy to work with, showing a great attention to detail, and also an openness to my suggestions to make the displays all the more accessible. He came up with the idea for a tangible ‘table of contents’ for exploration by our younger audience to be able to touch the various elements of his books represented in the display case, which proved to be very popular with young and old alike.
Several aspects of our efforts can be seen in the photographs he posted on this page of his website. What you cannot see there however is the buzz it has created at the library this summer and the dynamic presentation that he gave to the audience that attended his featured talk on these two installations.
He has an amazing ability to be present and spontaneous in his program speaking, interspersing his passion for reading, humor, grief, love, connection, and travel while reflecting on the fundamental necessity of education as the source for creativity. People were completely enamored, energized, excited, laughing, and the positive energy that flowed throughout the room during and after his presentation was remarkable. It has been a delight to watch the people that attended his talk bring in friends and family, and beaming with excitement show them Steven’s work and tour them around our library sharing their experience with it.
It is my hope that you too will be able work with Steven and help him share his passion for life, art, and education with your community, and to share in the tangible excitement that he inspires.
Sister Bay-Liberty Grove Library
Letter in support of Steven Woodward
I recently had the pleasure of meeting sculptor Steven Woodward and seeing the extraordinary exhibit he organized for the Sister Bay Public Library. The display included several ingenious sculptures that reflect on nature, words, and indirectly, libraries. Taking inspiration from Wisconsin's forests, particularly the evocative birch tree, Woodward plays with form to craft objects that tell a story--from a tree that turns into an open book, to life-like mushrooms that spring from dictionaries.
In addition to the sculptures displayed in a case, the exhibit has a tactile component that children in particular will enjoy. From natural birch bark to simulated mushrooms, observers can manipulate the materials to better understand and appreciate the artist's vision.
The exhibit can also be a catalyst for a variety of related programs on the literary and natural history of trees (e.g., discussions of recent books such as The Overstory and The Secret Life of Trees). As a former librarian and guest curator, I highly recommend that libraries take the opportunity to share Steven Woodward's exhibit with the public. Its beauty and wit will engage all ages--and connections to the natural world have never been more critical.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign