Steve Sinner & Joe Meirhaeghe
"As far back as I can remember, the process of making has fascinated me. All sorts of objects, from scooters to chessmen, came out of the basement workshop prior to high school. An appreciation of fine art and classical music began in high school, but I never dreamed of making art. A degree from Iowa State in industrial education – industrial option – and work in manufacturing followed... The presence of order, repetition, efficiency, simplicity, and quality in my work are a reflection of my fascination with manufacturing processes. I also have sought to collaborate with gifted artists who are able to complement my desire to reflect our culture. I owe the late Frank Sudol a debt of gratitude for his teachings and philosophies. They are evident in my work and my life. He made me comfortable with the idea of being an artist – something that was not easy for one with my background. Frank’s tutelage gave me permission to forge ahead and to experiment. That has resulted in the development of a number of new techniques, including both positive and negative images in patina on silver leaf. More recently, I have developed a second body of work based on very thin cylindrical turnings, usually pierced in complex designs."
Having worked with wood as his primary medium for more than 50 years, local artist Steve Sinner has mastered the art of woodturning. Woodturning is the process of fastening wood to a lathe that rotates around a centralized axis, allowing artists to use a series of chisels, gouges and other implements to carve away portions of the raw wood to create symmetrical forms. Traditionally, this process was used to create furniture legs, tool handles and other household implements. Sinner is one of a number of artists who use this technique to create finely crafted vessels. These vessels often have walls thinner than 1/8 inch, transforming rough blocks of wood into elegant forms. The surface of Sinner’s vessels range from meticulously rendered geometric forms based on algorithms to figurative allegories. These designs are created from a combination of mediums, including acrylic paint, gold leaf, ink and urethane. Other surfaces are embellished by selectively removing sections of the vessel, producing a screen of perforations that allow light to permeate the form. In addition to his independent work, Sinner seeks out local artists like Katie Kiley and Joe Meirhaeghe with whom to collaborate. The resulting works are remarkable combinations of form, material and surface decoration.
Joe was born in Moline, Illinois and grew up on a farm outside Woodhull, Illinois. He had a passion for woodworking from an early age. On the farm there was always wood and tools available for experimentation, and he was introduced to the wood lathe at age 12 by a friend of his father’s. He was immediately fascinated at seeing a block of wood spinning at a high rate of speed and the wood chips flying. His Dad’s friend showed him a few basic cuts and he was instantly hooked; he went back to turn whenever he could. Joe enjoyed it so much that he bought his first lathe at age 14 with money saved from a part time summer job.
As an adult, Joe purchased a shop full of wood working tools and started building furniture and cabinetry. After hobby woodworking for over 25 years he met Steve Sinner and was introduced to turned wood art. Joe had never looked at anything made of wood as art before, and after seeing Steve’s work, he wanted to know much more about it – the technical aspects of turning, from start to finish, to allow him to produce quality turnings. Joe learned many skills and techniques under an apprenticeship of sorts with Steve.
Joe primarily focuses on hollow vessels using native Midwestern woods such as walnut, cherry, hickory, and maple. He also enjoys incorporating acrylics, bone, and pyrography into some his work. While Joe has his own studio and works on his own, he also continues to work with Steve Sinner. In Steve’s studio they work together on collaborative pieces that they have shown in galleries and juried art shows.Video