Growing up outside Boston, Duncan Gowdy was the artist in his family. He began his college career studying illustration, but after he took an elective class in furniture-making he found he was spending most of his time in the woodshop. So he switched paths and pursued a degree in furniture. His current work in furniture incorporates distinctive naturalistic carvings that draw on his earlier passion for two-dimensional imagery.

Gowdy’s carving designs are based on photographs that he takes—of trees, plants, streams, surf. He will select a photo with a strong composition and project it right onto the cabinet he’s building. Then he traces the lines of the photo onto the doors or drawer fronts and begins carving. Aiming for strong light-and-dark contrasts, Gowdy often carves in ash, bleaching and pickling the uncarved parts of the work and staining the carved areas dark, or vice versa.

Gowdy’s furniture-making education took him from Massachusetts to North Carolina and on to San Diego, where he attended graduate school under Wendy Maruyama. His years in California made him acutely aware of his desire to be in back home, and he consistently draws the subject matter for his carvings from the landscape in New England. He currently lives with his wife in Worcester, Massachusetts.