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Mystic Seaport exhibit celebrates craftsmanship

A Way with Wood features boatbuilding and carving demonstrations.

A Way with Wood features boatbuilding and carving demonstrations.

A new exhibition, “A Way with Wood: Celebrating Craft”, is showing at the Mystic Seaport’s Maritime Museum in Mystic, Conn. It strives to introduce the many ways wood materials are transformed to objects of utility, art and beauty.

The show opened July 3 and will be on display in the Seaport Museum’s Thompson Exhibition Building’s Collins Gallery through the summer.

The 5,000-sq.-ft. gallery features rotating displays of objects from the museum’s collections, such as rare tools, unique carvings, small boats, photographs, and other artifacts that illustrate the wide range of ways wood has been shaped.

At the core of the exhibition will be a boat restoration and building demonstration staffed by shipwrights from the museum’s Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard.

This includes a restoration of Afterglow, the tender to the museum’s schooner Brilliant, and the Woods Hole spritsail cat Sandy Ford, and then the construction of a new dory for the L.A. Dunton. The focus will be on work using hand tools.

The exhibition is intended to evolve over time and provide different views into the world of craftsmanship and wood.


“We’re excited to be using our largest and newest gallery to show off our staff skills and our collections, by celebrating woodcraft and the craft of woodworking in a maritime setting,” says the museum’s director of exhibits, Elysa Engelman.

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Evocative and provocative

Searching for Home, a one-man show featuring Seattle-based, Pakistan-born artist Humaira Abid, ran from Feb. 7 through July 25 at the Center for Art in Wood in Philadelphia. An interactive tour of the featured work is available on the organization’s website,

“Abid is known for her unique visual language, which blends the discipline of traditional Mughal miniature painting and sculpture in wood,” according to a statement from the Center for Art in Wood. “Her career-long decision to specialize in woodcarving, a male-dominated field, reflects her commitment to challenging stereotypes. The beauty and mastery of Abid’s to-scale carvings of seemingly benign objects, ripe with subtext, belie the violence, cruelty, upheaval, and instability in society, especially that to which women are subject.

Searching for Home presents works by the artist that were created following months of research and interviews with refugee women who have been resettled in both the Pacific Northwest and Pakistan from nations including Somalia, Syria, and Afghanistan.

“The works in Searching for Home demonstrate the artist’s ability to tread a narrow line between evocative, and often provocative, content and mastery in a material discipline. The Center for Art in Wood’s presentation includes never-before-seen works that reflect the lack of resolution that impacts an increasing percentage of the world’s population. Among them, an interactive piece invites the visiting public to participate in storytelling and the sharing of personal narratives,” says the exhibit’s curator, Jennifer-Navva Milliken.

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This article was originally published in the September 2020 issue.

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