Biography – Steven Spiro

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Wood, Crafts, Steven Spiro

Portrait of Steven Spiro

This lends a shamanistic, or spiritual quality to the furniture. To be sure, the pieces are fully functional, well-built, and durable. Going deeper, though, they embody surprising and profound truths about flowing energy, and the integration of nature and culture. The woods are honored. Only solid hardwoods are used—never veneer. I use no stains or paint, allowing the natural colors and textures of the materials to be dominant. All decorative elements are created using the process of inlay, where variously colored woods are set into a background. Each piece is museum quality, destined to be an antique of the future. The quality of the craftsmanship is clear to see, honed over nearly forty years of furniture making. The finish is a state-of-the-art, two-part varnish imbued with ultraviolet inhibitors. The finish requires no maintenance, and will last almost indefinitely with proper care.

The forms are usually very organic, bringing to mind the sensuality of natural, living things, and harmonizing with the human bodies which interact with the furniture. The organic qualities provide a wonderful balance with architectural structures, with their straight lines and hard edges. The furniture warms up any space, calling attention to plants, people, and views of nature out the windows.

Each piece is poetry, from narrative desks to the haiku of side tables. Each one tells its story, starting with the record of the lives of the trees as shown by the annular ring patterns. These natural designs in the wood segue into the map-like images inlaid with precise geometry, creating a classic balance of organic and geometric forms. The inlays tell the story from a human perspective, while the natural lines tell the story from the perspective of nature itself.

Inlaid designs include compasses, phasing moons, planets and galaxies, homage to the four directions, the flow of water, drops of rain, passing comets, and a whole host of imaginary cartographic symbols. This points to other layers of reality, giving depth to the work. One can own a table, for instance, for years and still discover previously hidden meanings and details in the piece.

The overall feeling tone of my work in wood is joy. There is joy in the creative integration of the human mind, hand, and natural materials—often trees from my own land. There is joy in knowing that these art furniture pieces find homes where they are truly part of the family, integral to daily life in an engaged way. They are not precious, but durable artifacts of a life devoted to inspired work of the hand, mind, and heart. They are meant to be used daily, like a favorite pair of shoes. At the same time, they are meant to inspire—to remind us that we are not only close to nature, we are nature itself, aware of itself.

The creative process is the most natural and amazing thing in the world. Whether its creating a universe, a mountain, a tree, a human being, or an art object, the creative force is a continuous, flowing presence which exists both within and outside of space and time. It has been my honor to consciously participate in this universal unfolding act of creation in my small way. I offer these works in the spirit of Nonself. They came through me as images to be embodied. I have merely used my skill to interpret their desire to enter the manifest realm. Long after I am forgotten, some of these pieces will remain to radiate their own uniqueness and presence.

I am grateful to my many collectors and those who have encouraged this form of expression over nearly four decades. It is a wonderful journey of mystery