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Roy Superior exhibit will run in Philadelphia

The Center for Art in Wood in Philadelphia is hosting a visual biography of painter, sculptor and woodworker Roy Superior, featuring his functional furniture, pen and ink drawings and miniature-scale sculptures through April 19.

Chair by Michelle Holzapfel.

Superior died last Aug. 28 at the age of 78. He taught wood sculpture and furniture design at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he served as chairman of the crafts department and was head of the wood program for 16 years.

“Roy had a voracious appetite for the world,” said Leslie Ferrin, director of Ferrin Contemporary, a gallery with a collection of Superior’s work in Cummington, Mass. “He observed, appreciated, considered, questioned and ate well. Then he returned the favor. He invented, painted, carved, drew, sculpted, and venerated Italian food. The result of his life was a collection of finely crafted furniture, sculpture and drawings that reflects his philosophical mind, benevolent psyche, and humorous imagination.”

“He considered himself an absurdist, a risk taker, an ever-curious observer of the human condition. He made full use of irony as a tool to make his commentary, adds Albert LaCoff, the center’s co-founder and executive director.”

Three-person show at Fuller

The Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Mass., is presenting “The Stories We Tell: Works by Tommy Simpson, Michelle Holzapfel and Binh Pho,” through June 15.

The exhibition emphasizes how the use of narrative in craft is especially powerful, as it elevates everyday materials and brings functional objects to life. By telling a story through material expression, the artists presenting help viewers understand the meaning behind the objects and how their personal narratives connect to others, according to the gallery.

"Lucky Leaf" vase by Michelle Holzapfel.

The three featured artists use wood as their main medium of expression, coupled with any metals, glass or other materials that become part of the story.

Tommy Simpson's "Butterfly Maiden."

The exhibition is divided into three sections: Simpson’s “Love Letters to the Natural World,” Holzapfel’s “From What’s at Hand,” and Pho’s “Shadow of the Turning.”

Simpson’s artistic career spans five decades. His carved wood sculptures, studio furniture and textiles illustrate connections to nature. Holzapfel is a carver and turner, whose work explores the themes of gender roles, domesticity, cultural norms, nature and chance. Pho’s finely detailed objects create a bridge between literature, art and philosophy while exploring autobiographical approaches to storytelling through woodturning, sculpture, painting and glass, according to the gallery. 


The Center for Art in Wood, 141 N. 3rd St., Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 215-923-8000.

Fuller Craft Museum, 455 Oak St., Brockton, MA 02301. Tel: 508-588-6000.

This article originally appeared in the April 2014 issue.

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