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Ancient Japanese Woodworking Exhibition at The Parthenon

Ancient Japanese Woodworking Exhibition at The Parthenon

The Parthenon and Centennial Park Conservancy have announced a new exhibition titled “David Gootnick: Contemporary Kumiko.” The exhibition highlights works inspired by kumiko, an ancient Japanese woodworking technique. It will be held in the East Gallery of the Parthenon from July 26 to December 1. A free opening reception is set for July 25 at the Parthenon, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Kumiko, developed around 1,400 years ago alongside Buddhist-influenced architecture from mainland Asia to Japan, is traditionally found on ornamental shoji screens and decorative elements in Japanese homes. The technique involves arranging narrow wooden pieces into intricate geometric designs and patterns. These tiny pieces are often fitted together using tweezers and are held in place by angles, grooves, and tension. While traditional kumiko is made from Japanese cedar and cypress, Gootnick primarily uses yellow cedar from Alaska, which he claims is a close North American equivalent. His works are rich in design motifs that often draw inspiration from nature and science, incorporating symbolic meanings. In this exhibition, Gootnick presents three new works: RNA, Mitochondria, and DNA.

“David Gootnick’s work is a harmonious blend of the ancient and the contemporary,” said Parthenon Curator Jennifer Richardson. She noted that although kumiko developed without any direct connection to ancient Greek art, there are shared ideals such as a meticulous attention to detail, the pursuit of perfection, and symmetrical balance. Gootnick’s newest work, Meandros, employs a motif commonly recognized as the Greek key or meander, a design in use since prehistoric times. Richardson expressed excitement about hosting the exhibition, where visitors can explore the similarities between these distinct art forms, reflecting a shared aesthetic sense and a passion for precision.

During his exploration of woodworking, Gootnick had a life-changing apprenticeship with master luthier Donald Warnock while pursuing his BFA at Harvard University in the mid-1970s. He assisted in the restoration of a Baroque-era instrument for the Renwick Gallery in Washington D.C. and helped teach instrument-making at Boston University. This experience ignited Gootnick’s love for woodcraft. He subsequently pursued additional internships with master luthiers Bernie Lehman and Curtis Bryant.

Gootnick began his study of kumiko in 2015, captivated by its intricate patterns and focus on geometry and symmetry. He practices his craft in a tranquil, self-built studio at his home in Washington D.C.

A free opening reception for the exhibition will be held on July 25 at the Parthenon from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Guests can RSVP through the Parthenon’s website. For additional information about the exhibit, please visit the Nashville Parthenon website.

Source: Rutherford Source