Carvings on exhibit at the Sheldon

MIDDLEBURY — The Sheldon Museum presents the exhibit “Out of the Forest, Woodcarvings by Chuck Herrmann,” on view March 15 through May 21. The exhibit combines the museum’s founding charter as an art museum and historical society by honoring Chuck Herrmann as a Vermont wood historian, educator and self-taught artist.
Herrmann’s carvings are a reflection of his deep commitment to the Vermont forest, its history and value. As an example, true to his investigative and collecting habits, he carved the birds and waterfowl from remnants of a “root fence” that was once located on a farm field at New Haven Junction at the intersection of Routes 7 and 17.
He draws his inspiration from Henry David Thoreau, whose December 1855 journal described the roots in the fence “as not merely interwoven, but grown together into solid frames, full of loopholes like Gothic windows of various sizes and all shapes, triangular and oval and harp-like, and the slenderer parts are dry and resonant like harp strings.” But under Herrmann’s steady hand and imagination, carved, abstract, floating wild fowl forms rather than windows and musical instruments have emerged from the root fence.
A schoolteacher, Herrmann discovered his love of the forest when moving to Vermont in the early 1970s. He befriended mill owners, loggers and environmentalists, and soon became an expert on the woodlands, wood industry and wood artists of Vermont. He has been a valuable resource to the Sheldon Museum, Middlebury College Museum Library, Shelburne Farms, and Billings Farm, graciously offering his unique expertise and comprehensive knowledge of Vermont wood.
The exhibit provides an enriching artistic and educational experience. In addition to the root fence carvings, Herrmann’s offerings include carved maple sugaring storyboards and moving sculptures made with delicately balanced wooden shapes. His pedagogic contributions are highlighted by a didactic display of birds carved from 40 different wood species found in the Champlain Valley and an arrangement of carved leaves representing those of 50 trees indigenous to the region.
Although an accomplished self-taught carver, Herrmann says he cherishes most his role as a teacher. He will be offering gallery talks on selected Wednesdays at noon during the run of the exhibit.
For more information, call 802-388-2117 or visit www.HenrySheldonMuseum.org.

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