Hands at Work

Submitted by Jeffrey Cooper

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Client: League of New Hampshire Craftsmen

Location: Concord, NH, United States

Completion date: 2011

Artwork budget: $46,000

Project Team

Artist

Peter Bloch

Turned Wood Shated

Artist

David Little

Client

Susie Lowe-Stockwell

League of NH Craftsmen

Overview

The installation is within a larger space, nearest the entry. The ceilings are 12 feet high, the overall footprint of the desk area is 10 feet x 10 feet. The interior of the desk was built by the contractor. The façade, counter top, lighting, metal support structure above and the carve panels were created by a team of five artists. Cooper’s portion was the carved panels mounted on the metal structure. Each panel is approximately 20 inches x 24 inches, carved in walnut. The remainder of the room is gallery space.

Goals

The League of NH Craftsmen was moving to a new headquarters. The reception desk is the first greeting visitors see as they enter, and that presented an opportunity to quickly express the League’s mission to promote quality hand craft and to support the careers of craftspeople dedicated to a high degree of excellence. Cooper answered that call and presented the idea of a set of relief carved panels, each zooming in on hands working in various craft media. These panels are incorporated into this reception desk with an overall design created collaboratively with four other member artists.

Process

Led by Susie Lowe-Stockwell, the League’s executive director, the League issues a call for participation by member artists interested in commissioned artwork for the new headquarters. Five of us coalesced as a team for the reception desk. Cooper was selected for that team because of his carving skills, and the narrative work he had done on a previous project in a hospital lobby. Ideas circulated for carved artwork on the panels below or on moulding on a canopy above, but when Cooper suggested the idea of individually carved panels depicting hands at work in various craft media the concept you see in the photographs emerged. Cooper solicited snapshots from several League members, all of whom were delighted to participate. He cropped in closely on just the hands in the photos, enlarged them make full sized drawings on masonite. We all brought the models of our respective parts of the project to the construction site for a mock assembly, and we liked it. We then completed our parts in our own studios, and came together that August and put it all together. The other participating artists were Seth Kedaisch, Peter Bloch, Steve Hayden and David Little.

Additional Information

With a background in furniture making I have a wide range of woodworking skills. Recently I have focused on more arts oriented pieces, carving and relief carving with a goal of more public art projects. This is rewarding for me because wider audience can appreciate the work, and I love the process of listening to the goals of a commissioning agency and expressing that in the project design. It’s not about me. Or rather, my expression will be inherent in the work I can do by applying my talents to help others get their message out.