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Cultural Demonstration: Woodworking with Patrick Gracewood

Patrick Gracewood is an artist carving space, time and wood. He has created sculpture for film and television, and architectural ornament for historic buildings and new construction. Patrick maintains a committed studio practice in NE Portland. Join Patrick in the Cultural Corner to watch the artist at work carving small figures in the style of Enkū and showing recent sculpture.

Photo courtesy of Patrick Gracewood

Artist Statement

My art tells stories, my collaborator is wood. In my current series, I recycle construction debris, coaxing these manufactured shapes into revealing their natural irregularities. I work with cross sections of wood and pay special attention to the grain and texture. The history of the tree becomes an integral part of the finished sculpture. Looking at the art you can see the passage of time because each line is one year of growth.

Photo courtesy of Patrick Gracewood

Major influences on my wood sculpture are the Japanese monk, Enku, and the Taiwanese artist Ju Ming. Both influenced my work with their direct approach to carving.

Enkū (円空) (1632–1695) was a Japanese Buddhist monk, poet and sculptor during the early Edo period. He was born in Mino Province (present-day Gifu Prefecture) and is famous for carving some 120,000 wooden statues of the Buddha and other Buddhist icons. He used his art as devotional objects, giving them away, and to payment for lodging on his pilgrimages to temples throughout Japan.