By-product Becomes Product
Intersection for the Arts presents By-product Becomes Product, an innovative cross-disciplinary project using excess wood waste to explore safer alternatives to working with toxic material. Featuring lead artist Christine Lee (sculpture, furniture), U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Products Laboratory (FPL, the country’s leading wood research institute) Research Engineer John F. Hunt, and five artists who use wood as their main material: Russell Baldon (sculpture, furniture), Julia Goodman (paper, sculpture), Barbara Holmes (sculpture, furniture), Scott Oliver (sculpture, public art), and Imin Yeh (printmaker).
Christine Lee’s work sits between sculpture, furniture/woodworking, and installation. Her practice is characterized by an objective to reveal the latent potential of disregarded material. Influenced by the increasingly prevalent theories and practices of materials reclamation, resource conservation, and recycling in contemporary art, Lee is proposing an innovative solution to working with composite wood boards that are free of toxic adhesives and binders, effectively utilizing excess waste, offering a safer alternative to readily available plywood and medium-density fiberboard (commonly called MDF), and creating value to a common, abundant by-product for use by a range of artistic and industrial disciplines. The exhibition will showcase a broad range of conceptual and aesthetic styles, demonstrating diversity of construction and fabrication techniques, and blurring boundaries between fine art, craft, industrial design, and interactive installation. By-product Becomes Product embodies Intersection’s commitment to supporting innovative thought that facilitates positive change by working with an artist who has proactively developed material that is sustainable, non-toxic, and highly usable in artistic, craft, and industrial fields by manifesting scientific and engineering expertise into real-world applications.
The genesis for this project came when Lee was a Resident Artist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Art Department’s Wood Program in 2010. Already concerned about the health effects of working with commonly available composite wood panels such as MDF, particle board, and certain plywoods, she wanted to explore alternative approaches to material use and investigate material choices that could establish a healthier creative practice during her residency. Formaldehyde resins and glues are commonly used to bind together both plywood and MDF, and testing has consistently revealed that these wood boards emit urea-formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) for months after manufacture, let alone the harmful, residual particles created from cutting the boards. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classified urea-formaldehyde as a “probable human carcinogen” as early as 1987. During her residency, Lee worked with a supply of excess, post-industrial wood donated from a local millwork company. Being accountable for even more waste, Lee collected the sawdust she generated and worked with FPL Research Engineer John F. Hunt to create test panels with the sawdust supply, in essence producing usable material out of typically discarded by-product. Working at the FPL since 1979, Hunt has been committed to discovering innovative ways to utilize wood waste with cutting-edge technology and manufacturing methods. Building upon Hunt’s extensive research knowledge on molded fiber products and recycling paper into structural products, Lee and Hunt used various forming processes to create sawdust composite boards exhibiting properties similar to current manufactured wood boards such as MDF. These new boards, however, do not contain formaldehyde-based resins or other toxic adhesives, and are entirely biodegradable and recyclable. Given that The Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2010 to regulate formaldehyde omissions, this project is both timely and relevant to larger social concerns. By-product Becomes Product is supported in part by the San Francisco Arts Commission Cultural Equity Grants program.
About the participating artists in By-product Becomes Product:
Lead artist CHRISTINE LEE is a sculptor, furniture maker, and installation artist whose creative practice is characterized by an objective to reveal the latent potential of disregarded material. She received her MFA from San Diego State University in 2007 and has exhibited her work in group exhibitions locally at the Museum of Craft and Design, Lincart Gallery, Headlands Center for the Arts, Invisible Venue, Gensler Design and Architecture Firm, Intersection for the Arts, Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery, Recology SF, and San Francisco State University, and in group exhibitions nationally at the Racine Art Museum (Racine, WI), The Museum of Arts and Design (New York, NY), Aspen Art Museum (Aspen, CO), Madison’s Children’s Museum (Madison, WI), Art Produce Gallery (San Diego, CA), Society for Contemporary Craft (Pittsburgh, PA), Fuller Craft Museum (Brockton, MA), Arthouse (Austin, TX), Bellevue Art Museum (Bellevue, WA), and Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design (Chicago, IL). She has been a visiting resident artist at the ASU Art Museum (Tempe, AZ), Anderson Ranch Arts Center (Snowmass Village, CO), and an Artist in Residence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Stone Quarry Hill Art Park (Cazenovia, NY), Purchase College (Purchase, NY), and Recology SF. She has taught classes in sculpture, ESL Art Studio, and 3D Visual Dynamics at ASU, California College of the Arts, Purchase College, and San Diego State University and also worked as a studio assistant for new media artist Jim Campbell and woodworker Wendy Maruyama. She has presented lectures and participated on panel discussions at the ASU Art Museum, Oregon College of Art and Craft, Yale University, Stanford University, Maine College of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, and the University of Arkansas-Little Rock.
RUSSELL BALDON is a sculptor and furniture maker who was born and raised in California. He was a partner in his family’s wooden toy business before moving to San Francisco in 1984. After receiving his BFA in Wood/Furniture from the California College of Arts and Crafts in 1992 and his MFA in Wood/Furniture from San Diego State University in 1998, he studied and worked with some of the country’s leading studio furniture makers, including Garry Knox Bennett, Gail Fredell, Kim Kelzer, Thom Loeser, and Wendy Maruyama. In 1999, he helped to form a cooperative studio in Alameda, CA, where members pursue many commissioned and speculative furniture and sculptural works in a 5,000-square-foot wood and metal shop. Since 2002 Baldon has taught in the Furniture Program at CCA, and he has served as chair of the program since 2009. He also has had the honor of teaching at Laney College’s Wood Technology Program (Oakland, CA), Haystack School of Craft (Deer Isle, ME), Penland School of Crafts (Spruce Pine, NC), Anderson Ranch Arts Center (Snowmass Village, CO), San Diego State University, and the Oregon College of Arts and Crafts (Portland, OR). His work has been included in group exhibitions locally at LIMN Gallery, Fort Mason, Museum of Craft and Folk Art, Tercera Gallery, Oliver Art Center, and Forthrite Gallery, and in group exhibitions nationally at Shoshana Wayne Gallery (Santa Monica, CA), Wood Turning Center (Philadelphia, PA), Lexington Art League (Lexington, KY), Laguna Art Museum (Laguna Beach, CA), and Society of Arts and Crafts (Boston, MA).
JULIA GOODMAN is a papermaker and sculptor who received her MFA from the California College of the Arts in 2009, after studying studio arts at Santa Monica College from 2004–2007 and earning her BA in International Relations and Peace and Justice Stuides at Tufts University in 2001. Her work has been included in exhibitions locally at Rena Bransten Gallery, Performance Art Institute, ProArts Gallery, Varnish Art Gallery, Intersection for the Arts, Richmond Art Center, Lincart, Triple Base, and the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, and in group exhibitions nationally at Project 4 (Washington, DC), Dieu Donne (New York, NY), Highways Performance Art Space (Santa Monica, CA), and Long Beach Arts (Long Beach, CA). She was awarded a J.B. Blunk Artist Residency (Inverness, CA), completed a studio internship at Dieu Donné Papermill Inc. (New York, NY) and a residency in Kona, HI, and is a 2012 resident artist at Recology San Francisco. She not only casts paper in the traditional method, but pushes the medium into sculptural form. In her recent body of work, she has been carving into MDF to create molds with which to cast paper pulp in a process residing between sculpture and printmaking.
BARBARA HOLMES is a sculptor and furniture maker who received her MFA from San Diego State University in 2002 and her BFA from Brigham Young University in 1993. Her work has been included in group exhibitions locally at Headlands Center for the Arts, Museum of Craft and Design, Museum of Craft and Folk Art, Root Division, Catherine Clark Gallery, Compound Gallery, LIMN Gallery, and Y2Y Gallery, and in group exhibitions nationally at the Fuller Craft Museum (Brockton, MA), Oceanside Museum of Art (Oceanside, CA), Divan Gallery (La Jolla, CA), Kohler Arts Center (Sheboygan, WI), Ironworks Factory Space (Madison, WI), Orange County Center for Contemporary Art (Santa Ana, CA), and Sushi Art Space (San Diego, CA). She has been awarded Artist Residencies at Anderson Ranch Arts Center (Snowmass Village, CO), Recology San Francisco, and the Capital City Arts Initiative at St. Mary’s Art Center (Virginia City, NV), and has work in the permanent collection at SFMOMA. She also has extensive teaching experience, having taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, San Diego State University, Southwestern College, Mira Costa College, and currently at California College of the Arts. Much of her practice has focused on the reclamation and creative reuse of discarded construction material.
JOHN F. HUNT is a Research Mechanical Engineer who has been working at the country’s leading wood research institute, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, WI, since 1979. His research focuses on developing new ways to improve wood fiber products with cutting edge technology and production methods. Understanding the fundamental properties of wood fibers, he has extensive research background knowledge on molded fiber products and recycling paper into structural products, and is passionately committed to finding innovative ways to use wood waste. His research background knowledge includes molded fiber products, Spaceboard, Gridcore, wet-formed fiberboard manufacturing, recycling paper into structural products, press drying paper, fiberglass in fiberboard, honeycomb paper cores and sandwich construction, veneer peeling, finite element analysis, and laminated paper. He also works on three-dimensional modeling of paper laminates, composites, small diameter utilization through laminated structural lumber, and whole tree fiberization.
SCOTT OLIVER’s diverse practice explores our entangled relationship with objects and materiality through, what he calls, “poetic repurposing.” His work has taken many forms including in-home sculptural interventions, a symbiotic restaurant, a collection of discarded LPs, an elaborate parlor game with students, and most recently, a multi-faceted public project at Lake Merritt in Oakland. He is also a maker of objects, and while he does not claim any particular medium his background in design and woodworking are often evident in his work. He holds a BFA (1994) in Graphic Design and an MFA (2005) in Wood/Furniture from California College of the Arts. His work has been shown widely in the Bay Area at the deYoung Art Center, San Jose Institute for Contemporary Art, Sonoma State Univeristy, Triple Base, Museum of Craft and Folk Art, Oakland Museum of California, Johansson Projects, Southern Exposure, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, Mission 17, and Rena Bransten Gallery; and nationally at Grounds for Sculpture (Hamilton, NJ), Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery (Portland, OR), UCLA (Los Angeles, CA), and Sierra Nevada College (Incline Village, NV). He has received a number of awards and grants for his work including an East Bay Fund for Artists Grant from the East Bay Community Foundation, an Investing in Artists Grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation, an Individual Artist Project Grant from the City of Oakland, and an Alternative Exposure Grant from Southern Exposure. He was an artist in residence at Headlands Center for the Arts in 2009 and at Recology in 2007. He has taught in the sculpture departments at the California College of the Arts and UC Berkeley. He currently lives and works in Fort Bragg, CA with his wife and their son.
IMIN YEH grew up in Maryland and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison receiving a Bachelors of Art and Art History with Asian Option and an MFA at California College of the Arts in 2009. She creates sculptures, installations, downloadable crafts, and participatory artist-led projects. Recent projects include a 2012 commission from the San Jose Museum of Art and a year-long parasitic contemporary art space called SpaceBi that takes place in the Asian Art Museum. She has exhibited locally at the 01 Biennial, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Meridian Gallery, Kearny Street Workshop, San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, 18 Reasons, Pro Arts Gallery, Mission Cultural Center, and Southern Exposure and has received awards and fellowships from the San Francisco Arts Commission, Barclay Simpson Award, Murphy and Cadogan Fellowship. She has completed residencies at Blue Mountain Center in New York, Mission Grafica in San Francisco, and Montalvo Art Center in Saratoga, CA