has never been able to get out of the woods. Whether it was spending summers growing
up on his grandfather's southern Illinois farm or studying bryology and ethnobotany
at Eastern Illinois University, the woods have always brought out the best in him.
After earning a B.S. and M.S. in Botany he chose to follow his heart back to his
grandfather's farm and pursue his art. Since 1977 he has developed a bandsaw box
technique to create his own style of sculptural yet functional boxes.
The band saw box technique Steven uses begins with a solid cross-section of a log
which is cut, shaped, and joined to form a container. He begins his boxes by collecting
logs of native red cedar, sassafras, cherry, hackberry, and black walnut. A cross-section
of the log is cut with the band saw into a freeform and abstract shaped box with
one or more functional compartments. Each piece has a solid back and may have a
special mechanism for opening the box's drawers.
His background in botany has influenced the design of his work. Many of the abstract
shapes he designs are reminiscent of the plant cell organelles he once studied.
Steven has participated in many of the nation's best juried craft fairs and art
exhibitions and has been recognized with many awards of excellence and merit awards.
I would venture to think that many of us do not appreciate that all the objects
in our lives made of wood where once alive. Kitchen utensils, picture frames, hardwood
flooring, construction materials, wooden art objects, tables, chairs and of course
my sculptural boxes all started out as a growing, living and reproducing organism.
After 42 years and thousands of boxes I have come to realize that my most satisfying
and successful pieces are the result of a process that begins with that understanding
and a personal relationship with the actual tree that becomes the raw material for
my boxes. Because I collect the logs that I work with, I know the environment each
grew in before it was harvested or salvaged after a windstorm. While I work the wood,
I think about the living plant the tree once was. Its shape and form, even the smell
of the freshly cut wood, all influence the process. These sensory reminders of the
tree and its personal story provide not only inspiration but purpose as I work the
wood and remember the material that was once alive. When the conditions are right
and the communication between myself and the tree is complete, the result is the
rebirth of the wood into a work of beauty that moves and flows with new life.