Wood Design Students Show Their Skills

SUNY New Paltz offers a wide variety of arts programs and electives to cater to every students’ artistic drive.

One such elective is wood design, where students have the opportunity to create sculptures and furniture out of wood. For the 16th year in a row, these students showcased their pieces for the public to see at the Annual Wood Design Student Exhibition. This exhibit is hosted in the Fine Arts Building in the space below the Rotunda. The exhibit held its grand opening on Friday, March 8 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m and will be open until Thursday, March 14. 

The exhibit was organized by Instructor and Wood Studio Manager Edward Felton and Adjunct Art Professor Jeffrey Johnson. Both men had been working together at New Paltz’s Wood Studio since 2001. As wood design teachers, Felton and Johnson have the important task of helping their students in their artistic pursuits. 

“In terms of getting the work done, it’s a collaborative process. Setting up the show is a collaborative process between us and the students, and we’re guiding and leading the students through that process,” Johnson said.

Because the exhibit officially opened on International Women’s Day, women who worked in the field of wood design were celebrated.

“It was really a coincidence, but we were very glad that coincidence took shape,” Felton said. Felton found that majority of the students that had taken wood design classes were women over the course of the wood’s elective lifespan. “We did want to celebrate International Women’s Day and dedicate the rich contributions of women in the wood arts. I think in particular we want to recognize those young women who have taken wood design classes at SUNY New Paltz.”

The exhibit features a wide variety of art and furniture, ranging from small carvings to larger tables and benches. In total, over 50 pieces were submitted for the exhibit from dozens of students, most of which had no titles. These pieces ranged from the abstract, like a massive wood frame with four large, black orbs on each of its corners by Elizabeth Leupold, to the more practical, such as a wooden table with hanging legs by Jamie Commando. The open nature of the exhibit let students showcase their creativity in the medium of wood.

In making these pieces students go through the rigorous process of designing, drafting and purchasing the materials, ultimately crafting their works of art. Students were proud to have had the chance to showcase their artwork to the public and the work of their fellow classmates.

“We all help each other and we all put a lot of work into our individual pieces, but it really is a team effort getting to display all our work together. It’s something we all take a lot of pride in.” said fourth-year visual arts major Jeffery Sarra. Sarra had submitted a piece that was a detailed top half of a fallen building and a hanging five-pointed container.

“I think it’s cool to just see what [student audiences] are now drawn to, and if the works… speak to each other and if you see influences because people were in that environment together. I think that’s a cool thing to take away… the general thoughts of the students of the current time and just see how creative people are being,” said fourth-year visual arts major Julia Oppedisano. 

Oppedisano submitted three pieces for the exhibit, all titled. These included “Find Your Seat,” a bench that two people could sit on facing each other, “Toolbox,” which was an openable box that hung from a wall filled with Oppedisano’s drumsticks and “Free-Standing Horizontal Surface,” a wooden table with a glass panel broken in half with LED lights running through it.

Felton hopes that students are able to find good opportunities through their work that let’s them express themselves. 

“There’s always the possibility of making connections and building this network in a way that allows students to develop their design and craft skills after they leave college, or get them some really good experiences while they’re students if opportunities to present their work at other venues present themselves,” Felton said.

While the Wood Design Exhibit is set to close soon, there will be ongoing exhibits of student artwork held on the first and second floors of the Fine Arts Building rotunda. If you miss out on the opportunity to see the exhibit now, the next Woods Design Exhibit will be hosted around the same time next year.