The art of pyrography is more than wood burning. An artist uses a tool – heated to as high as 1,000 degrees! – to scorch the surface of natural materials such as wood, paper, gourds, or leather.
With the same price of admission – always free – Woodson Art Museum visitors this week experience more than artwork on view. They can meet Birds in Art and pyrography artist Julie Bender who traveled from Loveland, Colorado for her six-day residency, Pyro-techniques. She works with students and adults during school visits and public programs through this Sunday, October 21.
Where else can students, teens, and adults hear a Birds in Art artist point out the intricacies of a feather – barb, spine, and quill – and then lean over a participant’s smoothly sanded block of maple (thank you, Mark Duginske and Dave Jones!) to adjust hand position on a wood-burning tool? A twist of that tool alters the angle of the tip so that its point or flat edge burns fine lines or subtle shading into the wood.
Julie’s first group on Tuesday of thirty students, from St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Merrill, listened attentively to her cautions about using the tools safely and proceeded – without mishap! – to wow adult supervisors with their amazing, wood-burned images. Come see the array of artwork that visiting students produce; by next week it’ll be on view in the Museum’s lower-level L5 gallery for the next few weeks.
As a curl of smoke wafted up from delicately scorched wood Tuesday, one boy said, “man, this is my dream! I want to do this for a living.”
“Well, Julie does,” I replied. “You can, too, someday!”
Isn’t that the beauty and value of an artist residency? Inspiration. Meet the artists who live out dreams and prove it’s possible.
After thirty years in Atlanta, Julie pulled up stakes and moved to Colorado to live her dream of creating art in surroundings that fuel her creativity. Leaving oppressive southern heat and humidity behind and now reveling in the landscapes and wildlife outside her back door, Julie is transforming her dream into her tangible reality, much like she translates a pencil sketch into artwork charred on wood or paper.
What makes this artist residency possible is funding from the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin, with funds from the Wisconsin Arts Board, Community Foundation, and the B.A. & Esther GreenheckFoundation.
Here’s who benefits directly from Julie’s time at the Museum this week:
- About 200 students in seven class visits from area schools.
- Visitors who attend Bender on Burning, 5:30-6:30 pm, Thursday, October 18, to learn about Julie’s process and see her demonstrate her work.
- Teens gather for “Playing with Fire,” 6-8 pm, Friday, October 19. Call 715.845.7010 to RSVP.
- Individuals with low vision and blindness gather during Art Beyond Sight, 10:30-Noon, Saturday, October 20. Participants listen to Julie describe the process and feel the different textures of burned images on wood and paper. Call 715.845.7010 to register.
- Adults and educators attend a workshop, Saturday, October 20, 1-5 pm, to create a complex pyrographic artwork; $40 for Museum members; $50 for non-members. Call 715.845.7010 to register.
- Visitors join Julie on a Gallery Walk, Sunday, October 21, 2-3 pm, for a look at Birds in Art through the eyes of a participating artist.
Meet Julie this week for inspiration sure to leave its mark.
Don’t miss this opportunity to experience how the Museum strives each day to fulfill its mission to enhance lives through art.