Artist Statement




My interest in woodworking began first in Birmingham, Alabama, growing up in a home with a father who was an architect. I had several summer and/or part time jobs in general construction.

While at the University of Florida earning a Masters in Art History I was able to get graduate credit for classes in ceramics and woodturning.

Woodturning classes were where I got my first real break: unfettered access to a high-end wood studio for 7 years straight (1987-1994). Let me explain: when I signed up for my first woodturning class I asked my instructor and future mentor Ray Ferguson how many pieces could be made during the class he said one or two. I thought that was not getting my money’s worth so I started coming in after class–then climbing into a window after hours–then Ray gave me a key. No one had ever trusted me or had the confidence in me that Ray had. It was a really supportive and nurturing experience that I never even had at home. So I really blossomed. I got to go from working with pine two-by-fours to black walnut in one jump and never looked back.

Ray took me to two annual conferences of the American Crafts Council; one at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, in Tennessee; the other at Penland School of Crafts, North Carolina. At both conferences the guest woodworking instructor and workshop director was Mr. Sam Maloof, 1985 recipient of the MacArthur Genius Grant, and who was the undisputed Dean of American Woodworkers <>

DSCF3093During a group critique Mr. Maloof admired and complimented my signature turned piece “Tray with Bowl” saying in his distinctive voice that it was “beautiful.” In that moment I decided to make the jump from turner to woodworker and to make furniture. It was a simple jump–same forms, just increase the scale.

I now work primarily in four hardwoods: Walnut, Cherry, Mahogany and Maple.

Marcus Collier