Chris Shea in the Smithsonian
The Smithsonian American Art Museum acquired three furniture pieces in forged iron and cast glass for its permanent collection of notable American craft and decorative arts. The two Cafe Chairs and Arthropod Side Table by Maryland Artist-Blacksmith Chris Shea will be on exhibit at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, DC beginning October 1, 2011.Chris Shea designs and creates furniture, sculpture, and architectural metalwork at his forge and studio outside Washington, DC. In addition to the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Galllery, his work has been shown at Wexler Gallery in Philadelphia, Woodson Art Museum, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, the National Ornamental Metals Museum, and at SOFA Chicago with Maurine Littleton Gallery. A native of Marblehead, MA, Shea studied at the Appalachian Center for Craft in Tennessee and at Penland School. He holds a BA in English from Cornell University. Chris Shea's glass work is created in association with the Washington Glass Studio and it's damned amazing in my opinion.
Smithsonian Curator Nicholas Bell commented, "Over the past 15 years, Chris Shea has developed a compelling design language that combines traditional furniture forms, muscular ironwork, and luminous cast glass in ways that are at once unexpected and oddly organic.”
The Cafe Chairs have become a signature piece for Shea, with a form derived from traditional bentwood furniture but executed in hot-forged steel, with joinery details more common to large architectural ironwork than fine furniture. The seats are cast in thick contoured slabs of translucent green glass set directly into the iron. The table is of similar design, with the name “Arthropod” referring to the phylum of creatures (such as insects and crustaceans) known for their hard, segmented organic structures.