Steven Caldwell & Shawn Nordfors: Wood Art

July 17th to August 1st

This show includes work from Shawn Nordfors and Steven Caldwell.

Shawn shows two of his new carved heads plus several heads from his collection. These pieces range in size from 3 or 4 feet tall to life-size. Shawn has shown his work at the VCA in both solo and group exhibitions in previous years.

Steve shows functional bowls and platters, plus segmented baskets, ironic boats, and “Earth Cones” for a total of 15 pieces. The baskets are made of rings sliced from a green Madrone bowl, reassembled with spacers for a “see-through” look. The boats start as turned shapes that are cut, carved, sandblasted, painted, and assembled. These new vessels are turned from Madrone that has heavy bark forming the top of each piece.


I have been working with wood in many forms for most of my life. I worked for my father in high school and college helping to build his houses. Later, I built furniture and Cabinets to support my family. I have been turning wood on the lathe making bowls, vessels, and sculpture since 2014. I have tried to create forms which will evoke ideas about the natural world, ideas about climate, geography, flora, fauna and conservation have been part of my work. Currently I am working on baskets, boats, and I continue to make salad bowls. my techniques include carving, burning, coloring, sandblasting, and various finishes to achieve an interesting piece.

I often use wood I collect on Vashon in my work. Each wood has its own characteristics of color, grain pattern, moisture, stability, and workability. I try to take advantage of each species’ strengths, size, and shape when deciding what to make from any given piece. My greatest joy in the turning process comes from the creative moments and the unexpected discoveries that can be the spark for a new piece.


We look to one part of the body for recognition, communication, to judge beauty or look for character, we use it to remember or to humanise a god or force of nature. Skulls piled up in an ancient vault, reliquaries; a skull inside a golden portrait, Roman marble portrait busts, tribal masks; portraits of a spirit or archetype, the massive stone heads from the Olmec, Easter Island.

I carve portraits out of wood. The first ones, done over 30 years ago, were masks. From there I quickly moved to full heads on a neck starting above the shoulders. I paint people portraits and groups of people interacting.

Who are they? Sometimes actual people, often they are straight from my imagination. I have a memory of a story, place or time in my life and I think about what person could represent this. I will make a simple sketch, and start working.


I have been doing some kind of woodworking or construction most of my life. At age 12, I would spend fall weekends building dog houses for sale. I worked summers for my father’s construction company I graduated from college with an art degree in the mid 70’s, and began remodeling houses before getting into furniture-making in the early 80’s. I concentrated on building furniture for ten years, before switching to mostly cabinet-making to support a growing family. Now that I have time to pursue other outlets, I have been pleasantly surprised by the joy and creative expression that comes from turning wood.