Jon Brooks is a leading figure in the American Studio Furniture Movement known for his expressive works that blur the distinctions between art and craft. Active out of his New Hampshire home, Brooks' poetic creations illustrate his masterful skills and deep connection to nature.
Process and Inspiration
Get a behind the scenes look as Brooks discusses the process and inspiration behind True Loves Blue, a love seat for the Currier Museum of Art.
I find it freeing to collaborate with the natural form in that it allows me to have an environmental statement about nature and how it has a voice. No two trees are alike, just like no two people are alike. That excited me.
Jon Brooks b. 1944
Jon Brooks is a leading figure in the American Studio Furniture movement. Born in Manchester, New Hampshire, Brooks took classes at the Currier Museum of Art as a child and later attended the Rochester Institute of Technology. He studied and under fellow masters Wendell Castle and William Keiser, before graduating with his master’s degree in 1966. Under Castle’s guidance and driven by a deep connection with the forests of New Hampshire where he grew up, Brooks developed an early expressive sculptural style where function is a chosen limitation.
After college, Brooks moved across the country to San Francisco and immersed himself in the culture. On the west coast, he found an environment that nurtured his independent spirit, one that was ripe with creative energy and fellow artists who were blurring the lines between craft and art. He enjoyed minor success during this time and exhibited in several galleries in the city. In 1969, after saving enough money, he and his first wife Mona moved back east and purchased land in New Boston, New Hampshire where he would build his home and studio, ArtSoul.
More art gallery than home, ArtSoul is the physical manifestation of Brooks’ artistic vision, a place where creating and living are one in the same. Tucked into the lush forest that surrounds the property, ArtSoul consists of whimsical structures built entirely by Brooks and filled with his artwork and furniture designs. It is also where he sources materials for his work, namely felled trees that are first roughly carved with a chainsaw, left to air dry for two years, and then thoughtfully shaped, sanded and stained.
Aside from a period of time spent teaching abroad at the University of Tasmania, Brooks has remained based out of ArtSoul in New Boston, where he continues to create works that blur the line between art and functionality. Examples of his work can be found in collections across the globe, including the Renwick Gallery in Washington D.C., The Museum of Arts and Design in New York, The Queen Victoria Museum in Launceston, Tasmania and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. In 2011, Brooks came full circle when the Currier Museum of Art, Manchester hosted a retrospective of his work, some fifty years after he enrolled in art classes at the museum as a boy.
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