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ATLANTA (January 22, 2003) The Atlanta International Museum of Art and Design presents the first and only museum exhibition to feature three generations of America's consummate woodturning family: metro Atlanta residents Ed Moulthrop, his son Philip Moulthrop, and Philip's son Matt Moulthrop.

A renowned innovator in contemporary woodturning and a strong influence on the development of the field, family patriarch Ed Moulthrop, age 86, is a self-taught master craftsman well known for his large-scale bowls and other simple shapes that have a striking symmetrical perfection and classic sculptural design. He has created some of the largest lathe-turned pieces in the world, many standing more than four feet tall.

Ed Moulthrop was originally an architect; he designed many university and public buildings throughout Georgia, including the Atlanta Civic Center. He acquired an early love of woodturning when he bought his first lathe at age 15, but he did not give up the architectural practice to be a full-time artist until 1972. His lifelong dedication to woodturning and his respect for the medium is apparent in his humble artist statement: "There's something intriguing about working on a pristine piece of log. Like fingerprints, the swirls, shadings, and grains are never repeated. I don't design beauty, I uncover it. The bowl has just been waiting inside the wood to be discovered."

Today, three generations of Moulthrops have coaxed exquisite wood-turned creations from rough-hewn tree stumps, and the name "Moulthrop" has become internationally synonymous with contemporary woodturning. Ed's innovative methods began a family tradition of craftsmanship ---using the custom-made lathes and hand-forged tools he designed and built because conventional tools were not adequate for his large works. The turning process itself may take from four months to over a year. It begins with green sections of native southeastern trees-the only woods the Moulthrops use; some species are very rare, such as tulip magnolia, ashleaf maple, sugar berry, persimmon, and yellowwood. (Trees are never cut down; they are reclaimed "downed trees" that would otherwise be discarded or sold by loggers.) The log's inherent grain and colors are carefully evaluated before it is roughed into an initial shape. The rough-shaped piece is then soaked in a solution for several months to prevent cracking. Next, the wood is dried for more than a month before it is turned again on the oversized lathe and hollowed out from the inside with gigantic turning tools to achieve its final form. The bowl is sanded numerous times and then finally sealed with several coats of a luminous finish, hand rubbed to a lustrous sheen.

Philip Moulthrop, now 55, was only ten years old when he began to learn about lathes and chisels from his father. A professional woodturner since 1977, Philip has built on his father's ingenious techniques; in addition to the spherical and elliptical shapes that are his father's trademark, Philip produces his own designs. He gives special attention to accentuating subtle grain patterns and highlighting surprising colors in the wood. He also sometimes deviates from the single log method to create "mosaic bowls" composed of numerous pieces of end grain and side grain sections from different trees imbedded in an epoxy/wood dust matrix. Philip will present a slide lecture and gallery talk on April 24.

Philip's son Matt Moulthrop, age 25, is sometimes teased by fellow MBA students for attending class with chips of wood or sawdust in his hair. Having been trained by both elder Moulthrops, Matt is still in the formative stages of developing his own unique style, while combining both of their influences with his own voice. He is prepared to continue the family tradition, saying, "Being able to 'see' the shape of the bowl has been a legacy and a gift I have tried to improve upon with my own vision."

The exhibition and related programming will include an overview of these three artists' works and the unique process that has qualified Ed and Philip's work for inclusion in the art collections of such well-known and diverse people as Steven Spielberg, Bill Blass, David Rockefeller, and John Portman. Moulthrop pieces can also be found in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art and MOMA, the Smithsonian Institution's Renwick Gallery, and the Mint Museum of Craft and Design. An opening reception will be held at the Museum on Thursday, April 3, 2003 from 5pm to 8pm. The event is free and open to the public.


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