By Andy McGivern, curator of exhibitions
A recent hands-on bench-building program for teens is among many dual-artist residence programs enlivening the Shaker exhibitions on view. Area woodworker Mark Duginske and Door County furniture maker Jim Rose teamed up, along with volunteers and staff, to help nearly two dozen Wausau and Merrill teens build Shaker-style benches.
Mark developed his bench design by referencing a bench in the Gathering Up the Fragments exhibition.
Wood for the benches was donated by Marathon County Solid Waste Department from trees harvested to make way for an expanded landfill site. Using his portable sawmill, Duginske cut the oak and maple trees into usable lumber, planed the wood in his workshop north of Wausau, and cut it to size for the various bench components.
After teens gathered for pizza on a recent Friday night, Mark and Jim explained elements of the bench-building project. Students then paired up and moved to various workstations to construct their benches. I helped students drill holes where tapered wooden dowels later were inserted to join the bench parts.
Once the benches were assembled, students painted or applied a water-based acrylic to finish their works of art.
At the end of the evening, everyone left with a smile on their face and a bench to call their own.
Upcoming Shaker-related programs include a woodworking clinic and Shaker pastimes such as basket weaving and quilting. Check the events calendar or call 715-845-7010 for details and to see what Shaker treasure you can create.