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The 2020 Bob Stocksdale International Excellence in Wood Award: Kristin LeVier | Thurs, April 22, 2021 | 6:30 pm | Virtual Lecture Co-hosted by Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library

Images: Kristin LeVier, Winter Nest, 2019. Photo: Jonathan Billing. Bob Stocksdale, Snake Bowl, 1984. Photo: John Carlano.


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Join us to celebrate the fifth year of the Bob Stocksdale International Excellence in Wood Award. Supported by an anonymous donor, this award is presented annually to an emerging or mid-career artist whose work unites quality of craftsmanship and respect for material, for which renowned master woodturner Bob Stocksdale (1913–2003) is known. The 2020 recipient for the Bob Stocksdale International Excellence in Wood Award is Kristin LeVier, Moscow, ID.

In commemoration of the 2020 Stocksdale Award, Jena Gilbert-Merrill, a current Lois F. McNeil Fellow in the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, will present a lecture on LeVier and renowned master woodturner Bob Stocksdale (1913 – 2003). Gilbert-Merrill, whose research interest is focused on the history and experience of empathy-embedded objects and materials, will discuss LeVier’s work in the context of Stocksdale’s impact and legacy, including his quality of craftsmanship, respect for materials, commitment to human rights, and artistic innovation in the material of wood.


The Bob Stocksdale International Excellence in Wood Award was launched by the Center for Art in Wood in 2016 to honor Stocksdale’s legacy while linking his work with a new generation of artists and makers who work in the material of wood. It is awarded to a selected artist, emerging or established, whose work embodies reverence for materials and dedication to craftsmanship-values that resonate throughout Stocksdale’s body of work.

The artist is granted a prize of $1,000. Another $500 is allocated for documentation to an honorarium to be given to a research fellow, who delivers a lecture at a program organized by the Center in partnership with Winterthur Museum and its Research Fellowship Program in American Material Culture. This lecture will examine the laureate’s work in the context of the values and characteristics inherent in Bob’s body of work. The inaugural award recipient was Jakob Weissflog; the 2017 winner was Dean Pulver; the 2018 laureate was Ben Strear and the 2019 awardee was Humira Abid.

Beginning in 2019, the Stocksdale Award is adjudicated by a committee. The esteemed members of this committee are:

Christine Knoke, Deputy Director of the Mingei International Museum; Michael Monroe, Director Emeritus of Bellevue Arts Museum and the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum; Michael Puryear, artist, woodworker, and furniture maker; Kevin Wallace, Executive Director of the Beatrice Wood Foundation; and Jennifer-Navva Milliken, Artistic Director of the Center for Art in Wood.



Kristin LeVier by Jonathan Billing.

Kristin LeVier: I create minimalist contemporary sculpture inspired by my deep fascination with the natural world, and my mission as an artist is to tell a story through work at the intersection of art and science. I’m driven to make art that excites curiosity and connects us to the extraordinary, strange beauty of the world around us.

The two decades I spent as a research molecular biologist allowed me to explore the complexity of our world, and I continue to view my surroundings through the eyes of a scientist. The structure of a leaf or the movement of a bacterium can be astonishingly beautiful, and I sculpt with the aim of illuminating the subtle and the tiny.

Through my work I hope to deliver scientific content viscerally to encourage curiosity and a desire to look more closely at the smallest details of the fantastically rich and beautiful world around us.



Jena Gilbert-Merrill by Emily Bach

Jena Gilbert-Merrill is a scholar and artist with an interest in making, makership, and materiality. She graduated from Swarthmore College in 2016 with a BA in Studio Art & Educational Studies, completed a postgraduate program in Ceramics at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and is currently a Lois F. McNeil Fellow in the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture. With her background in art-making, craftwork, and education, Jena is especially drawn to investigate how things are made, the empathy embedded in handmade objects, and the unique way that objects and materials can contain, encode, and reveal stories, history, and experience. Her current research revolves around the cultural and personal significance of making and material intelligence, as well as notions of skill, professionalism, and amateurism in the context of early 20th-century craft and design.



Image: Paul J. Smith, Bob Stocksdale (1913 – 2003) at his studio, Berkeley, CA, ca. 1985, Inkjet print. The Center for Art in Wood Museum Collection, Donated by the Artist. 2016.

Bob Stocksdale (1913–2003) was an internationally renowned pioneer of contemporary wood turning. Known for his striking lathe-turned bowls, formed from exotic woods, Stocksdale is credited with sparking the revitalization of the craft of wood turning and its growing significance as an art form. His signature work comprised smooth, elegant bowl forms that emphasized the natural color and distinctive grain pattern of the wood.

Stocksdale grew up on his family’s farm in Warren, Indiana. He began working with wood as a teenager repairing furniture and taught himself how to turn on the lathe. Drafted into the US Army in 1942, Stocksdale claimed Conscientious Objector status and spent the duration of WWII in Civilian Public Service camps. It was in such a camp where he turned his first bowl.

Following the war, Stocksdale moved to Berkeley, CA, and became an early member of the Arts and Crafts Cooperative, Inc. (ACCI), a cooperative gallery showing work by designer-craftspeople. He was married to the noted weaver and fiber artist, Kay Sekimachi.

 Bob Stocksdale’s awards and acknowledgments were many. He was inducted as a Fellow of the American Crafts Council; made an Honorary Lifetime Member of the American Association of Wood Turners (AAW); honored as a California Living Treasure; and recognized as a Master of the Medium Award by the James Renwick Alliance. His work is held in the permanent collections of many notable institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Arts and Design, New York; the Contemporary Museum of Art, Honolulu; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the Center for Art in Wood. 

2019 Awardees

Image captions clockwise: Humaira Abid, Borders and Boundaries (detail), 2017. Barbed wire: Mahogany wood, carved. The World is Beautiful, and Dangerous Too (detail), 2017. Shoes: Pine wood carved; red wood stain. Composite image by the artist sourced from two photographs taken following anti-Muslim riots in Myanmar. AFP, March 29, 2013. The World Is NOT Perfect (detail), 2014-17. Pine, mahogany, and tulip wood, carved; red wood stain, wire, epoxy putty, paint. Photo: John Carlano. From Fragments of Home Left Behind II, 2019-20. Pine wood, carved; wood stain, gouache, pigments on handmade wasli paper, Plexiglas. Searching for Home (detail) and Leila, 2016-17. Pine wood, carved; red wood stain.  Photo: Adeel Ahmed


Humaira Abid by Steven Miller

Humaira Abid was born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan. She immigrated to the United States in 2008, and now lives and works in Seattle, WA. 

Abid received her BFA in sculpture and miniature painting from the National College of Arts, Lahore, in 2000. She has exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide. Her work has been published in books and other print media and she has been the recipient of prestigious awards and grants. She has lectured widely and participated in residencies and symposia around the world. 

Abid works in the disciplines of woodcarving and traditional Mughal miniature painting. Through her depictions of objects and figures, Abid articulates themes that are often provocative and challenging, amplified by her manipulation of heritage practices and the materiality of wood. Her carved and painted works, known for their virtuosity and exquisite detail, have been exhibited in museums and galleries and documented in publications around the world.

Humaira Abid’s work is currently on view in the exhibition Humaira Abid: Searching for Home, continuing at the Center through October 3, 2020. 


Portrait of Emily Whitted

Emily Whitted is a Lois F. McNeil Fellow in the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture. She received her BA from the University of Richmond in 2016. Her research interests include historic textiles, contemporary Appalachian craft, and the intersections of craft, gender, and social justice. Emily’s thesis “The American-Made Stocking” investigates the eighteenth-century knit stocking industry in Germantown, Pennsylvania. Having completed her Master’s degree in American Material Culture in May 2020, Emily plans to begin studying for her Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the fall.





2018 Awardees


Ben Strear, Bleached Stele, 2018, bass wood

Originally from Colorado, Ben Strear attended the Rhode Island School of Design where he received a BFA in Furniture Design. After graduating in 2006, he was awarded the Robyn and John Horn Woodturning Fellowship at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. In 2007 Ben moved to New York City where he found success both fabricating and managing the production of projects for high profile architects and artists. It was also during this time that Ben defined a formal language for his own sculptural woodwork. In 2016 Ben began to focus on creating sculptures full time. Ben and his family currently reside in Grand Rapids, Michigan.







Trent Rhodes portrait

Trent Rhodes is a Grants Associate at the Brandywine River Museum of Art and a recent graduate of the Winterthur Program in Material Culture, where he completed his thesis on Southern antique collectors and dealers. During his time at Winterthur, Trent served as a visiting fellow at the Center for Art in Wood, where he and a classmate worked with the director to begin reinstalling the permanent collection. Prior to graduate school, he worked at the Minnesota Historical Society as a Research Assistant for an exhibition on suburbia. Trent has held internships at the American Craft Council and the Goldstein Museum of Design. He graduated from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, with a Bachelor’s degree in Art History.

2017 Awardee

Dean Pulver by Maria Jowenhans

This selection of pieces represents some of the series that I have explored over the past 15 years. Even though the approach and language of form may vary there is a common sculptural intent within all the pieces: the goal to create beautiful, potent objects that are truthful and unique but respect their origins.

I have ventured into various sub-explorations to experiment with ways to create pieces that have the vitality and resonance that I hope for. Vitality in that the pieces have a contained energy, as if ready to move or breathe and resonance, in that the pieces reference many things and therefore echo in the mind. These explorations are more openings to thought and reflection rather than statements.

Since wood is my choice of medium, respecting traditions of woodworking is also important; obvious suggestions to tooling of surfaces, opposed by finely finished surfaces, are present. This adds the evidence of human interaction and energy contained in the piece.

All of these sub studies support my pursuit toward the beauty which lies in truthful objects. In truths we express reality. In expressing reality our feelings, thoughts, strengths, insecurities and imperfections are brought out into the open. Truth and honesty is beautiful to me. —Dean Pulver

2016 Awardee

Most of Jakob Weissflog’s life has been dedicated to woodturning. Born in 1982, he started turning at the age of eleven and completed a formal woodturning apprenticeship with his father, Hans Weissflog. He has worked in his father’s workshop since 2005 – learning, mastering, and then expanding upon the innovative techniques passed down from his father. Today, he is a full-time woodturner who has found his own unique style of architectural, playful, and meticulously crafted work. He showcases the beauty of wood through contemporary designs. In 2016 Jakob received the prestigious Bob Stocksdale International Excellence in Wood Award. His work is exhibited internationally, and he shares his knowledge through demos in the US, Europe, and Australia.