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John Cederquist received the Furniture Society's award of distinction at their annual conference, held this weekend at MIT in Cambridge, Mass.
Born in 1946 in Altadena, Calif., John Cederquist went on to teach art and 2-D design at Saddleback College in Misssion Viejo. He uses the same techniques he teaches–trompe-l’oiel, airbrushing, etc.–building sculpture and artistic yet functional furniture. This weekend in Boston, after 30 years of shows and exhibitions, he received the Furniture Society’s award for lifetime achievement at their annual conference.
The images in Cederquist’s work are a bit cartoony for me, personally, but his talent is undeniable, and I enjoyed hearing his life story in his own words. Even more so, I enjoyed the slideshow he gave, showing how he developed and built a recent series of work based on Wall St. greed.
He was introduced by Miguel Gomez-Ibanez, director of North Bennett Street School and head of the Furniture Society’s selection committee. Gomez said that although Cederquist takes his images from popular culture, and that “they make you smile,” the images are used with reverence, not mockery, and “combined as if in a dream.”
Then Cederquist came to the podium. He broke down a little when talking about the support he has received from his wife. After his first show, he received a few congratulatory messages. One was a telegram that read “If you build it, they will come.” Later he realized it was from his wife. That inspired him to do a show every two years, and he has stuck to that.
Cederquist said he was in an angry state of mind, furious at Wall Street greed, when the Furniture Society contacted him about the award. “These are people who don’t build anything,” he said with a wry laugh. “They say they are creative…with money.” The award cheered him up, he said, inspiring him to channel his anger into a new series, called “Treachery of an Economy,” with his own use of illusion reflecting the tricks that banks and financial institutions played with people’s money. His slideshow at the conference documented the techniques he used to design and build the pieces.
Cederquist also takes inspiration from classical sources such as the Renaissance and Japanese wood-block prints. My favorite Cederquist pieces are these functional storage cabinets, inspired by Japanese kimonos.
This bench, "Treachery of an Economy," shares its name with the series. Cederquist showed the crowd how he designed and built this piece.
The bench began as a drawing.
Cederquist's next step is usually a full-size mock-up in 1/2-in. plywood, held together by drywall screws. He draws right on the plywood.
To make the actual piece, he uses a variety of woods. Some show through (he call these "image woods") and others are painted. All are glued onto a plywood backing.
Throughout the piece, Cederquist used many of the flourishes found on the dollar bill.
To create the hard lines in his images, he routs grooves and fills them with colored epoxy.
A shop assistant belt-sands the epoxy flush to the surface.
Once air-brushed shadows are added, the 3-D effect is amazing.
"The Fate of Discretionary Income" is part of Cederquist's latest series, "Treachery of an Economy."
"Burned at the Stake" is a chair in the series.
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