Meet the Artist: David Talley

Woodworker David Talley of Tenants Harbor, Maine, was awarded the 2014 Louise K. Binswanger Prize for Best Artist New to the Show.

How did you first become interested in working in your medium?

What I essentially do now is functional sculpture in wood. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, the origins of the work come from my experience as a young dental student, infatuated with the shape and curves of teeth, and then later, as a boatbuilder and world-cruising sailor, with a deep appreciation for the appealing shape of boats. In the later stage of my boating days, while living aboard ship I spontaneously began making sculptural furniture. Soon after I was introduced to the books of furniture guru James Krenov and began to develop a profoundly intimate appreciation for the visual qualities of wood. Over the years, I have realized that the amazing beauty of particular woods can be enhanced through sensitive combination with other woods and, when presented in engaging forms, can create sculpturally evocative functional art.

What is special about the medium and how does it inform the work?

In what I do, wood is the star of the show. This work would not be if not for the wonders of wood. My job is to present it in as engaging a format as possible. Fortunately, I have discovered forms that by virtue of their balance and harmony reflect some essential wholeness we all, at our core, share and are attracted to. When the wonders of wood combine in these forms, there is art.

What do you love about your studio?

I love the small size and efficient layout of the studio and the intimacy I feel there. It's in the studio, more than anywhere else, that I can be present and feel a strong sense of completion; contentment. It's also nice that it is surrounded with gardens half the year, gets ample direct sunlight and is connected by a breezeway to the house in which I live.

What was the inspiration for a recent piece?

Inspiration for me often comes from a visceral or kinesthetic sense. It's not so much that I can see the piece — rather, I feel it. For the past couple of weeks I've been indulging in a yearning to manifest pieces that are earthy/organic; something like a blend of Asian and African influences. I don't yet have the words for the style, but so far I'm loving what I'm seeing.

Can you share a personal highlight of the 2014 PMA Craft Show — other than winning the award, of course!

What stands out for me from the 2014 PMA Craft Show is the overall quality of the experience; it simply was a step beyond any other show in which I have exhibited. The fellow exhibitors, the show staff, the organization of the event, the sponsorship, the venue, the exhibitor lounge and the overall energy were all extraordinary.


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