Published: Mar. 4, 2010
Updated: Mar. 5, 2010
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The exhibition Exploring Wood will be displayed at the Duke Eye Center Touchable Art Gallery through June 2010.
Exploring Wood is an opportunity to visually and tactically experience wood through the incredible craftsmanship of its artisans. The pieces range from elaborate and ornate in detail to smooth and full of curves that accentuate the paths of the wood grain.
Tactically, each carving portrays the cuts, chips, and gouging the artist made and one can get a sense of how much patience, skill and time to takes to create a carving from a block of wood. The variable textures in each piece create an imprint that can be left by the artist alone.
Exploring Wood also highlights an impressive diversity of wood. Examples include wood carvings made from rich, black ebony wood, reddish brown mahogany, pale yellow linden wood, and bubinga, a dense dark brown wood from West Africa. This diversity reflects a vast array of trees and forms, through veins in wood, in nature. The carvings portray and preserve the extraordinary nature of the trees.
Located at Duke Eye Center, the Touchable Art Gallery is designed to allow everyone including those with visual impairments to enjoy art in a unique way.
The gallery, located off the reception area, is open weekdays. Patients, family members, and friends are encouraged to visit the gallery while they wait for appointments or surgical procedures. We also accommodate community groups for special gallery tours.
For questions or inquiries about the Duke Eye Center Arts program, contact Betty Haskins, Eye Center Arts Coordinator, at 919-684-5633.
Ainu culture, Japan, 20th century.
Gift of Dr. George and Mrs. Louisa Levi, Fayetteville, NC.
Duke Eye Center Art Collection. E.2484
This sculpture has distinct contrasts in texture; touch the fur, the belly, nose and eyes, and fish in its mouth. Because of the hump and fish in its mouth, this may remind many people of the North American grizzly bear. For its mass it is surprisingly light in weight. It is a common Japanese tourist souvenir.
Poplar wood, paint.
Gift of the artist.
Duke Eye Center Art Collection. E.2477
Ronnie Sumner carved for the last 25 years of his life. He created relief carvings like this one as well as paintings and sculptures. The extraordinary thing about Sumner is that he has been legally blind since the age of five. As a premature twin, the excess oxygen he received damaged his eyesight.
Then, at the age of five, he suffered from detached retinas, which left him totally blind in one eye. With glasses he could see a distance of about 12 inches.
Sumner began carving about 1976 while recuperating from his third unsuccessful eye surgery. During that time he taped a segment about carving that he saw on TV. After watching the tape over and over, he was able to teach himself.
Even though it took him several hours to do even the smallest of carvings, his impairment did not stop him from loving his craft. He enjoyed demonstrating his carving skills and encouraging people with vision problems to try their hand at art.
This carving was begun at the Duke Eye Center when he did a demonstration as a visiting artist. Sumner also worked at a counselor at Camp Dogwood, a camp for people with vision limitations. Sumner lived in Beulaville, North Carolina, with his two daughters. Ronnie Sumner died in 2001.