Tom Shields, a wood sculptor from Penland, North Carolina, is Century Furniture's first-ever artist-in-residence. Shields, a North Carolina Arts Council grant recipient, former Penland School of Crafts resident artist and recent Windgate Foundation artist-in-residence at San Diego State University, has been a woodworker for over 15 years. Shields began working as an artist when he earned an MFA in artisanry (wood/furniture design) from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, in 2010. “Along the way I became so deeply involved with wood as a substance that it has become the unconscious core of how I express myself visually,” said Shields.
“I make furniture not because I am a furniture-maker, but because these forms are my reflex vocabulary. This has led me to explore furniture not as an object, but rather, as a subject. I am not trying to re-invent the chair, make it more comfortable or establish a sleek new design for modern living. Instead, I hope to address the role that furniture plays in our lives and tweak that context as a means to investigate social connections.” As part of his residency, the artist will be involved in monthly community outreach programs, including talks and demonstrations.
“We are excited for the opportunity to work with an artist like Tom as our first artist-in-residency,” said Alex Shuford, President of Century Furniture. “Having him working in our factory alongside our own artisans will be a wonderful experience for us as a company, and we hope it will create more awareness around the true art of woodworking.”