Erin McCue

Erin McCue

Artist
Profile Location
Portland , ME
Artist Statement


Initially pursuing a degree in forensic chemistry, I switched over to the hands-on field of woodworking because of the GoJo pumice soap I saw by the sink. I vividly remember my dad, an aircraft mechanic, always having this in his hanger, and he’d say that if I got a job that made my hands dirty, I could use this soap too. That was when it all started. That day, I dove head-first into the field of woodworking.

The beauty of furniture caught my eye first. I began striving to create anything with complexity. I longed to make pristine bridle joints and craved the intricate details found in wedged through tenons. However, at a certain point in my endeavors I felt like something was missing. Reflecting back on my passions prior to woodworking, I found myself returning to science books. I started looking at everything from the skeletal system to the components compiling a cytoplasm, sketching cartoonish squiggles that my mind would visualize while reading each word. I began to ask -- why are these two worlds separate? 

I set out on a mission to marry art and science. For my first research grant, “Incorporating Biology into the Field of Woodworking”, I created an atmosphere where these two areas of study could feel at home. I created work that scientists and artists alike could appreciate. The research studies began with texture carvings, paint applications, and different manipulations to the wood, including burning, dyeing, and reshaping, utilizing the information found in my old biology books. The journey continued into structures of the human body, exploring parallels between bones and wooden structures.

Femur Table was one of the first results of this research. The femur, the strongest bone in the body, became the most important structure for the table, and the form of the curved top mimicked the ball and socket joint that the human femur forms with the hip bone. I created Infestation after a friend was diagnosed with melanoma as a means of exploring my own feelings about illness. The initial piece was an immaculate cabinet, but the drawer within it represented a tumor. I manipulated the wood to explore how disease could spread through a body, first coating the interior of the cabinet, then seeping out when the inner portion could hold no more. 

With biology being the main influence in my work, I wanted more information. I wanted to observe under a microscope. I wanted to collect data. I wanted to dissect a cadaver and see how each part of our bodies were formed. During the years of 2017 and 2018, I took multiple classes focusing on anatomy and physiology to build a stronger foundation for the work that I envisioned. Most recently, Consumption was created as a piece symbolizing how our bodies and beings as a whole can be overtaken by things so toxic. 

While craftsmanship is a fundamental part of my practice, I find woodworking to be much more than a well-crafted table. This is a field rich with possibility. There is room here for art, and room for science. There is room for me to be myself, to explore questions from both fields, and from this combination to build something beautiful.

 

 
 

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