Wornick Distinguished Visiting Professor Scott Constable Leads Students to Reexamine Role of Craft

Artist and furniture designer Scott Constable is fall 2010's Wornick Distinguished Visiting Professor of Wood Arts. He is a woodworker who uses his craft to explore the social and philosophical issues of everyday life. His work, ranging from furniture to architecture and environmental sculpture, has exhibited internationally and garnered numerous design awards.

The recipient of the Center for Cultural Innovation's Investing in Artists grant, Scott created the Deep Craft initiative, a forum for fostering reexamination of the role of craft in the realm of contemporary art and design. His Deep Deck is "a unique hand-shaped skateboard made of reclaimed solid elm from local Northern California trees. Its finish is durable, nontoxic, and biodegradable from renewable resources. It combines old-school style with innovative design; the deck is cambered for flexible pumping, cruising, and carving. (Each limited-edition collector's version is dated and numbered.)"

While teaching at California College of the Arts, Scott developed transdisciplinary courses including “Fieldwork: Visceral Inquiry” and “Comfort: Origins and Consequences." Scott has also taught at University of California at Berkeley and presented workshops at conferences and symposia including “American Institute of Graphic Artists: Power of Design” and at “Craft & Design: Hand, Mind and the Creative Process” for the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum. In 1996 Scott founded Wowhaus with his wife and collaborator, Ene Osteraas-Constable.

Constable's current course, "Studio Atelier: Micro-Expedition," involves taking the students on a voyage of discovery. As he describes, “Expedition into the unknown has played a perennial role in human history. Whether in the service of survival, expansion, inquiry or piracy, people continue to explore the world through the vehicle of expedition.”

Micro-Expedition is a meditation upon the nature of exploration, with a specific focus on framing a contemporary sense of the unknown and developing the vessels related to a particular expedition. During the semester students plan a waterborne expedition, build a small fleet of craft appropriate to the waterway and intended goals as well as any peripheral gear suitable to wood construction. Guest lecturers will include a Bay Area naturalist, a maritime historian, and a naval architect.

Micro-Expedition is ultimately about the motivation behind design in wood and the role of craftsmanship in making highly functional things. Students learn about working as a team toward shared goals, working efficiently with limitations of time and resources, and finding opportunities for innovation within tight parameters. By participating in the semester-length group project, students also learn about San Francisco’s maritime history, proposal making, seamanship, reading nautical charts, and tracking weather and tides. The course functions like a true Atelier, as a collaborative extension of Constable’s studio practice.