Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Marc Lamm - Woodworking

Marc Lamm

Marc Lamm
MNArtist page =

I started building furniture and experimenting with simple but uncommon shapes in 1973. In 1996, I started putting all my efforts into furniture and other items focusing on art. My technical woodworking has been mostly influenced by Tage Frid and George Nakashima. Both have methods which contradict widely used techniques and have worked for me.

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?
I combine traditional woodworking standards – solid joinery, drawers that open easily, doors that fit with uniform reveals, etc. – with my artistic expression.

I am a fierce recycler and use nearly every scrap that comes from my work to make bowls, cutting boards and small art pieces. Friends bring old furniture to me or I find discarded wood. A neighbor took down an ash tree and gave me the larger sections. I estimate that 90% of my bowls and 50% of my furniture comes from recycled or found wood.

I am currently working in two areas. One is bowls. Although I’ve been turning for years, it has not been a focus of my work until recently. It’s a kick seeing what’s inside the blanks of wood. It’s a give and take between my concepts and what the wood offers. I also create turning blanks from scraps in my shop which I laminate to create specific patterns in a bowl.

Second is cabinets. Although I have been making carved cabinets for years, I recently came up with a new style which you can see in the image of the stained cherry cabinet. In the past, I carved the entire cabinet into an organic figure but this cabinet has a “traditional” shape with a frame and panel door and drawer. Only the panels are carved. By the way, this cabinet was made entirely from recycled wood.

"What is Art?" is certainly too big of a question to ask here, but what do you hope your audience takes away from your art? What statement do you hope to make?

The experience of hearing or seeing art is personal. No person, including the artist, can dictate what a person takes from a piece. Of course, Guernica makes a statement but the feeling a person takes from it varies with each person. That is the emotional aspect of art. Since I work in feelings, not concepts, people interpret my work through their own experiences and sensibilities and I never correct them.

When I designed and built the cross for the 1st Lutheran Church of Columbia Heights, I met with the building committee and listened. I asked a few questions to draw them out but mostly, I listened. My goal was to make a statement of feelings, of emotional interpretation of the sensibilities of the congregation. When I’m focused, spirit guides me - not the spirit of religion or philosophy but the spirit within me. My skills give me the language to communicate it. It’s like making a perfect throw to first base or a layup. The skills must be there but at that instant, I don’t think, it comes from within me.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Work hard, do a lot, pay attention. Accept my imperfections. If I don’t like or believe in a piece, set it aside or throw it away.

Tell me about your work space and your creative process.
My shop is as organized as I can make it. It’s a battle and I do my best. I’ve always been good at geometry so I rarely make drawings. I see it all except the carving. I have a general idea what I’ll do but the details come later.
I have to say that sometimes, I do plan a piece. If my design is based on laminations or bends then of course, I have to plan the process which is an intellectual and engineering process.

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?

I don’t know how Kyle Fokken ( comes up with his zany ideas. You have to know him to understand that. Kat Corrigan is great. I watched her working and her eye is remarkable

I’m lousy with names but I’ve seen some fabulous stuff around. I bought a tiny little painting from a guy during the St. Paul Art Crawl – three inches square – and it’s absolutely stunning. Four years and it’s still one of my favorites in the house.

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?
There are so many great galleries in the area, not the ones in downtown, but in the NE art district and in St. Paul. So, I have to say, there’s two general areas I love, the NE Art District and the St. Paul art district. That said, there are hundreds of artists all over the area doing great work.

Where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise?

I belong to NEMAA and

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?
Art-a-Whirl (Details) I’ll be showing all my recent work (approximately 40 pieces) at the Keg House.

Carved Door

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