Spotlight Section Title
Opening November 11, 2023
Featured Article Title
Crafted from Wood
Throughout time, carvers, cabinetmakers, furniture makers, and carpenters have been crafting objects to serve as functional, social, and aesthetic pieces of work. Signatures or marks left by the craftsperson, whether incised/scratched or those of chalk, paint, pencil, or ink, allow a piece of wood to be transformed into a reflection of society, culture, economics, and trade. This exhibition, which opens November 11, 2023, explores the gift of crafting treasures from wood while highlighting the training and abilities of the crafter.
Housewrights, joiners, and carpenters intermingled with cabinet and furniture makers to craft homes and businesses throughout the Albemarle region. Artisans often served dual roles to maintain a living, many as farmers. Tools, hardware, and finishing materials were purchased from regional merchants or other artisans’ estate sales. These highly skilled craftspeople built homes, schools, businesses, and churches, all components that create a community. Decorative or plain trim work was completed for pay and passion.
The exploration of the material culture of craftspeople reveals they were influenced by styles from abroad, fellow crafters, and their sheer determination to succeed in this field. This exhibit will allow visitors to explore, experience, and engage with modern wood crafts to learn how carvers use wood to express their culture, religion, profession, and identity or to connect to their communities.
The exhibit features objects that were crafted in 18th century furniture-making shops of Thomas White, William Seay, Samuel Black, and Micajah Wilkes. Tools on view will include those used by carpenter and master brick mason Elisha Overton and the Ziegler family of cabinetmakers and undertakers. Families--like the Dunbars of Tyrrell County, the Badhams of Edenton, and the Sharrocks of Northampton and Bertie Counties--left their mark on our society by the prominence of their crafts. Works crafted by Thomas Day, Henry and Wilson Bruce Evans, and Angela Cacace are among those representing fine North Carolina craftsmanship. See carvings by artisans Gerry Lang, Arliss Watford, and Joann Drake.
This exhibit acknowledges the individuals and organizations tirelessly working to acquire, restore, and save furnishings and structures for the rich treasures that they are. Today, housewrights and master carpenters hone their restoration skills to help preserve homes, churches, and other structures. Regional cabinetmakers offer workshops and classes that allow participants to use traditional techniques and tools from centuries ago. Businesses teach carpentry and cabinetmaker skills and architectural historians and furniture historians research and publish materials that allow everyone the opportunity to learn more about objects crafted from wood. This exhibit is free and open to the public. The exhibit will remain open until the end of 2026.