Artist Michelle Holzapfel Achieves “Impossible” Images

"Succession of Bloom" (detail)
 
May 1, 2017 — Wood that looks like linen fabric. Fabric that resembles spring flowers. The artwork of Michelle Holzapfel is full of surprises. The Gallery at the Rhodes Arts Center features her work in Pencil Needle Chisel, an exhibition opening Friday, May 5, and continuing through June 3. 
 
 
“Michelle's work is so interesting because of its variety and intricacy,” says visual arts teacher Alex Braile. “She is able to capture images, forms, and textures that seem impossible.” Rage Correctly, for example, appears to be piles of paper on fabric but is actually carved entirely from wood.
 

Much of Holzapfel’s work starts with a chunk of hardwood from a tree near her Vermont studio. She might sand it to reveal the extravagant swirls of a natural burl, or find a hidden pattern in a gnarled branch. She might bleach wood to mimic linen, or create contrasts in color and texture using wood-burning tools.
 
She also creates drawings, fabric art, and practical wooden items such as bowls, spoons, and vases. 
 
“Her work is so connected with her medium and with the natural world,” says Braile. “I am excited that students will have the opportunity to see Michelle's work here at NMH and to experience artwork that is so unique and so thoughtful.”
 
A self-taught wood carver, Holzapfel’s work is in the collections of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Mint Museum, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, the Wood Turning Center, Museum of Art and Design, and Rhode Island School of Design, among others