Jim Rose helps Adriana Gomez, 17, of Marathon, as Rose and other adults help teens build benches Dec. 7 at the Woodson Art Museum in Wausau. Wood was donated to the museum by the Marathon County Solid Waste Department from an area that will be turned into a landfill site.
The Woodson Art Museum is shaking things up with its latest pair of exhibitions.
Now through Jan. 20, the Woodson will host two exhibitions focused on the Shaker people who were members of the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing religious sect, which grew in popularity throughout the 19th century.
The first exhibition, "Gather Up the Fragments: The Andrews Shaker Collection," features an array of items that were hand-made by the Shakers at various communities throughout New England, including tables, rocking chairs, cabinets, clothing, wall art and kitchen gadgets.
"The Shakers really believed they could worship God through their work and what they created, so quality craftsmanship and excellence in what they produced was extremely important," said Amy Beck, marketing and communications manager at the Woodson Art Museum. "By looking at the items they made, you are able to get a sense of what their daily lives were like and what their needs were."
Items crafted by Shakers are characterized by their clean lines and lack of ornamentation, Beck said, and are designed with simplicity, practicality and efficiency in mind, all of which give the pieces a timeless look.
"It's this simple aesthetic without a lot of embellishment or adornment and that's what makes it refreshing," Beck said. "It's hard to not appreciate the work and craftsmanship that went into these items, and there's so much history tied to them as well."
The museum's second Shaker-related exhibition, "Simply Steel: Furniture in the Shaker Tradition," consists of modern furniture made in the Shaker design by Door County-based artist Jim Rose.
Rose said he first was inspired by Shaker craftsmanship more than 20 years ago when a road trip through upstate New York led him to a Shaker historical museum.
Since then, Rose has created more than 250 Shaker-style furniture pieces such as cupboards and oval boxes made primarily from welding scrap yard metals.
"Even though those Shaker items are very old, they all have a very modern quality to them, and it's something I wanted to incorporate into my work," Rose said. "The Shakers are a groundbreaking and interesting part of our history, so it's fun to play off of what they've done in my own way."
Many of the pieces currently on display at the Woodson are items that Rose first saw in upstate New York in the early 1990s, he said, thus reminding him of how he fell in love with Shaker style in the first place.
"It feels like I've come full circle a little bit," said Rose.
A variety of upcoming family programs related to the exhibits will take visitors back in time, such as using antique tools for woodworking, cross stitching, potato printing, quilting and hearth basket making.
Today and Saturday, adults can attend a day-long workshop to learn to craft a four-legged Shaker table using antique saws, planes and drills. No previous woodworking experience is necessary, and tools are provided. To register, call 715-845-7010 or email email@example.com.
Make handmade gifts, just in time for the holidays, at the next Toddler Tuesday from 10:30 a.m. to noon, in the program Little Hands, Big Gifts. And, museum educator Catie Anderson will discuss Shaker culture over the noon hour Wednesday.