Abiding Patterns

The work of hands and hidden forms.

brown wooden ladder

I am trying to clarify the pattern, the artist said, in reference to the shape of living here. The artist was after this great unconscious form. The artist saw this form everywhere. It wants uncovering, the artist said.

And what will happen when you find it? Someone asked. I can tell you one thing, it won’t be a retrospective. Then the artist posed a question: ever been to a Shaker retiring room? Tell me you don’t see it.

Point being, the ideals of a people are to be found in what they make. To enter the room is to see belief in action. Among these, to work is to pray. Among these, a reverence for simplicity. The wood is pine, abundant and unvarnished.

It evokes the old reminder: never paint a ladder, because you won’t see the cracks in the wood. Here is made by climbing hands. You can see them at work in every joint, in the weave of the seat, the file of the arm of the chair.

Feel them, even in this room empty of all but the furniture they once made, for the living. 


Inspired by the work of artist Tom Sachs, especially his furniture.

Author: Stacey C. Johnson

I keep watch and listen, mostly in dark places.

2 thoughts on “Abiding Patterns”

  1. I love the artistry in the furniture making as you conjure up here Stacey. In fact I was just noting a couple pieces in our den made by my now-deceased father-in-law yesterday, pointing them out to our daughter Charlotte. And it’s a real living legacy, a lovely thing. A coming tougher of the art with the math (as if they were ever apart in the first place, or needed “coming together”). Thanks for this lovely tribute here!

    1. Thank you for sharing this, Bill! What a treasure, to have pieces made by hand, from family, in your living space. Gorgeous.

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