Shaper of Wood
& Maker of Wonderful Things
The Artist's Journey
My name is Rick Urban, and I am a Shaper of Wood. I began doing that regularly with a wood lathe in 2003, experimenting with all manner of tools, techniques, styles, and designs for the next decade and a half. At some point I realized I was spending less time on the lathe than off the lathe, and I still called myself a woodturner. I wasn't ready to declare myself an artist or sculptor, and I still feel more at home in my shop than a studio. Nevertheless I felt it might be a good idea to find a better fit between the label and what I was actually doing.
I like wood. It offers wonderful textures, patterns, and colors just as it comes from the forest. With a little TLC it may become spectacular!
My inspiration comes from all around me. I grew up in the Arizona desert where dramatic textures abound, and sunsets are more often than not, stunning. I was fortunate, at the same time, to be able to explore the wonderful world of the ocean, its moods, tidal pools, the magic it revealed as the water disappeared twice daily. The wide open spaces of Texas and the forests of the north Georgia mountains taught me to expect a delightful surprise in the most unexpected places. The impressions and echoes of those experiences and more have been my artistic mentors and guide the forms I create. I still turn traditional bowls and vessels, but transforming the inspirations of nature into something wonderful to see and touch is what I enjoy most.
I hope my work does not look exactly like that of anyone else, but if you think you see similarities there are good reasons.
A long time ago in a place far away Art Liestman introduced me to the lost wood process. It wasn't long after that that Michael Kehs showed me that wood didn't have to be sanded and lacquered, and wood burning and branding could produce some interesting results.
Later, after taking a closer aim at what I wanted to do when I grew up, I took classes and worked with some great people who just happen to be world class artists. Among them have been Jacques Vesery, Graeme Priddle, Melissa Engler, Peggy Schmid, and J. Paul Fennell. Many others have inspired me by just seeing their work.
If my work successfully integrates the qualities in nature that resonate in all of us, I am confident you, too, will appreciate the results.