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Esherick contest challenges creativity

The annual thematic woodworking competition held at the Wharton Esherick Museum in Malvern, Pa., is designed to foster inspiration in the minds of artists.

Wheat Fields, a frame by Richard Spillman, won the Members’ Choice award in 2016.

Now in its 24th year, entries are being accepted for the 2017 Wharton Esherick Museum Woodworking Competition and Exhibition, featuring the theme, “Creative and Imaginative Vessels.” The idea is based on an intricate mug Esherick carved out of oak in 1927. Esherick (1887-1970) was a sculptor who worked primarily in wood, extending forms to furniture, furnishings, buildings and more. His hilltop studio was named a National Historic Landmark for Architecture and features more than 300 of his works on display.

Jellyfish Wall Cabinet, by Jay T. Scott, was Best of Show in 2014.

Museum executive director Julie Gannaway says that the purpose of the competition is to encourage resourceful and innovative thinking that will result in objects that surprise and delight.

“When we involve contemporary artists we see it as strengthening Esherick’s legacy and as an organization we’re focused on incorporating contemporary artists, so that the studio becomes less of something that happened and more of something that continues to happen and that artists are looking at Esherick’s indelible creative space here as source material,” Gannaway says.

The pieces must be functional, primarily made of wood, new creations and non-traditional pieces.

A jury, including museum curator Laura Heemer and Albert LeCoff, president of Philadelphia’s Center for Wood in Art, will select pieces to exhibit at the museum from September through December.

The entry deadline is July 1.

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This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue.

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