Unique Woodworking

About Groundswell

Jonah Hankin-Rappaport

Francis Bacon says, “The job of the Artist is always to deepen the mystery.” In navigating the worlds of art, design, craft, and construction, I strive to maintain some sense of this deepening mystery.

I have worked in a number of areas and in a range of materials, but primarily I find myself drawn to make functional forms that celebrate wood.  Some of this is clearly furniture, some of it is… something else.  In creating these unique pieces I aim for what I have found to be a wonderfully synergistic balance; the dance—between the character of the materials, processes utilized to their best potential, asserting my own creative interventions, and viewers discovering their own relationship with a completed object or space. Ideally, each ingredient in this alchemy tests the creative potential of the others, inviting greater beauty, more clever innovation, and a deeper, more subtle layer of mystery.

I enjoy the possibility of building relationships through the creation of objects. Furniture is explicit in its relationship to the human body and the spaces we inhabit. While grounded in traditional construction techniques, my furniture work explores forms and functionality in a way that also attempts to tell a story. Always there is reverence for the materials, their history and the visceral experience they convey; Always an appreciation for the act of making—the methods and labors involved—a curiosity, wonder, and hopefully a sense of humor.  Some of my work emphasizes the kinetic potential of the objects, asking the viewer to play an integral role in activating the piece. More recently I have enjoyed collaborating with clients and other makers to design and execute projects otherwise inconceivable.

In seeking out meaningful ways to engage my art practice, expand my skill-set, and establish myself within the arts and building communities my journey has been both rich and varied. In addition to an academic background in the arts (I attended Macalester college and ultimately graduated from The Evergreen State College with a B.A. in fine art and ecological forestry), I have sought out mentorship with expert potters, carvers, and tradespeople.  Throughout my working life I have found meaningful work with many fine craftspeople and quality individuals, among them Joseph Becker (Ion Ecobuilding),  Nic James at Beech Tree Woodworks, and Eyrich Stauffer (Stauffer Woodworking).   In the summer of 2008 I followed my girlfriend to Maine and was able to participate in a rigorous 3-month woodworking program at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship.  This set my course on woodworking and furniture in particular as a way to integrate  my experience in the building trades with my passion for art.  I like the hands-on practicality of art you can use.

For the last several years, I have increasingly taken on more independent creative endeavors. I have participated in group shows, artist in residency programs, and public installations–which I particularly enjoy.

As I have pursued my passion as a maker and artist, it has become clear to me how significant this process can be as an experience of not only personal, but also shared discovery. I find myself compelled to tithe my own professional and creative unfolding to participation within a community and culture that celebrates and supports the radical act of making art.


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