Feature Articles

September 2013

The Council for the Arts Jacksonville/Onslow in Jacksonville, NC, Features Works by Stephen Zawistowski

The Council for the Arts Jacksonville/Onslow in Jacksonville, NC, will present The Art of Nature, featuring works in metal by Stephen Zawistowski, a.k.a. Stephen Z, on view from Sept. 8 - 27, 2013. A reception will be held on Sept. 8, from 2-5pm.

In today’s world of mass produced, machine made products there is a craving for custom designed and hand crafted works which embraces quality and craftsmanship. Zawistowski’s handmade objects appeal to those looking for something truly unique.

In this exhibition, Zawistowski has created pieces which showcase the marriage of form and function which is so obvious in the natural world. He starts to create a new piece by researching the natural design of a plant to do service to its botanical features. Then determines how to make a hard and immobile material, like steel, yield the shapes and designs needed in order to present the best rendition of the life in the plants.

Zawistowski has taken the designs of nature and blended them with the designs of man. “The designs in nature are so perfect. They are totally functional, yet nature has imparted them with astounding beauty.” It is in the function where the beauty is revealed. If we as designers and craftsmen separate nature’s form from the function, the resulting work would be contrary to the natural laws so evident all around us. In nature we can see fantastic designs, the perfect blending of beauty and function. We should celebrate that blend.

All of the plants in this display are native to our region. He has not attempted to copy them, but rather to reflect their beauty. Each piece starts as raw steel and then transitions into a life like reflection of the original.

The wood he is using is Cyprus, “This Cyprus tree was growing in eastern North Carolina before the first European settlers arrived. The tree fell, not by the hand of man but by an act of nature, into a coastal North Carolina river in where it stayed for decades. The sand and debris carried by the moving water scoured the sides and ends of the wood. The natural chemicals in the water permeated the fibers and gradually staining them to a patina only time can achieve,” says Zawistowski. “I first saw the 24 foot trunk after it was removed from the water and allowed to dry in a farmer’s field. Even then, I could appreciate the special qualities of this piece. The log was milled and moved to my studio where I slowly continued the drying process over the last several years. I waited for the right project to come along. Using this wood on anything other than a unique piece of furniture would be a loss. I hope you agree, celebrating the art of nature, is the perfect use of such a beautiful piece of natural history.”

It has been 10 years since Zawistowski first made a piece of functional art which his wife allowed to “move into the house”. From that first piece, his work has continued to grown and evolve. Zawistowski never strays far from the organic, nature inspired, curves and lines he experiences around him everyday. As an artist he takes pride in making pieces which do not attempt to replicate nature but rather reflect its essence. The fluid forms of nature are used as inspiration, working to reflect them in the design of each piece.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Council at 910/455-9840 or visit (http://www.jaxarts.com/).

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