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One Good Turn
An exhibit at the Art Gallery will surprise those who remember woodturning as bowls and bats crafted—badly—in high school shop class.

More than 2,000 years ago, an anonymous Egyptian craftsman figured out how to set a block of wood spinning and then turn it into something useful. While technology has transformed the lathe that does the actual turning from a human-powered bow to a motor-driven precision tool, the point of the endeavor has remained, for most of history, decidedly utilitarian.

In recent years, however, this venerable craft has made a transition from hobby to high art. “Wood Turning in North America Since 1930,” an exhibition that runs from September 10 through December 1 at the Yale Art Gallery, documents the transformation. “It’s no longer just about balusters and salad bowls,” says Albert LeCoff, executive director of the Philadelphia-based Wood Turning Center.

LeCoff, along with Pat Kane, curator of American Decorative Arts; Edward S. Cooke Jr., the Charles F. Montgomery Professor of American Decorative Arts; and Glenn Adamson '01PhD, among others, have assembled 134 objects that chronicle the way the craft has changed. “Wood turning,” says Kane, “has entered another realm.”

moulthrop burchard

Mosaic Bowl
by Philip C. Moulthrop (1994)

Set of Baskets
by Christian Burchard (1998)

latven shuler

Sudden Impact
by Bud Latven (1994)

by Michael Shuler (1989)


©Yale Alumni Magazine

Silent Witness #1, Openheimer
by Mark Lindquist (1983)


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