Working in walnut, curly maple, and more, Jason Middlebrook turns wood into hypnotic works of art.
With lines upon lines of tight geometry, splintering out in fractal chaos, artist Jason Middlebrook creates hypnotic works of art on planks of wood. As much a medium as a muse, Middlebrook’s work is inspired by and built upon the wood’s natural shapes and tendencies.
“A friend of mine took me to a mill in Western Massachusetts in the summer of 2007,” Middlebrook explains to The Creators Project, “it was at the mill that I got inspired and started thinking about leaning planks of wood that could function as sculpture and painting.” Working in walnut, curly maple, birch, and cottonwood, among others, Middlebrook’s work has been transformed by the material. “Leading up to that point, geology and the compression of time has always been the foundation of much of my work. To see the grain exposed and pronounced really helped inspire the series.”
While some of his works rely on the natural shape of the trees he’s working with, others completely disregard the curving rings inside the wood to counter and confuse the eye. “I select pieces of wood that have gone through a three-year kiln dried process,” the artist says, “The slabs of wood and their shape inspire the paintings.” With this thrust of work, both in wall pieces and his “plank” series, the artist marries sculpture and two- dimensional art.
And Middlebrook thinks you should see his work in person, “The scale of the wood and the richness of grain in contrast with the acrylic paint is exciting. Many viewers think the lines and patterns are inlaid but in fact they sit on top of the wood.” The effect is at times dizzying, at times disorienting, but always interesting. “I like the metaphor of a highway cutting through a landscape, the asphalt sits on top of the earth.”
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