Delight Rocking Chair
Martha Rising Rosson (born in 1954)
Object Place: Los Angeles, California
Overall: 83.8 x 58.4 x 121.9 cm (33 1/2 x 23 3/4 x 49 1/2 in.)
Medium or Technique
Maple, purpleheart, Andaman padauk; compound bent laminations
Not On View
A masterpiece of technical skill and expressive qualities, Martha Rising’s bentwood rocking chair uses slender laminated members and curved joinery to suggest dynamic motion. Rising accented the light-colored maple frame with padauk and purpleheart; thin strips of these darker woods function like “racing stripes” on an automobile to heighten the impression of energy and movement. As Rising explained in 1984, “the dynamic vitality and rhythm I seek to give each piece allows a relationship to the piece beyond its utilitarian function-it portrays a moment of motion captured or portrayed in the piece.” Although the chair pushed the boundaries of function, Rising demonstrated a traditionalist’s sensitivity to the use of wood as a material. In a 1983 article otherwise disparaging art furniture that was conceptual rather than practical, contemporary furniture maker Art Carpenter praised the care and skill evident in this chair, which he called “a delight of bent forms and fine joinery, a tour de force of craftsmanship which if taken a step further could have become a parody of the bender’s art.”
Rising (now Martha Rising Rosson) was active in studio furniture-making in California from the late 1970s through the mid-1980s. Like other second-generation studio furniture makers, her training included both informal and academic education. After learning basic woodworking and design methods from her father in his home workshop, she majored in “Design in Wood” in the art department at California State University, Northridge. There she earned both a B.A. and M.F.A., visited the studios of noted California furniture makers Sam Maloof, Carpenter, and Larry Hunter, and apprenticed with wood sculptor Michael Jean Cooper. Cooper’s use of complex three-dimensional bending and exotic woods in various colors strongly influenced Rising’s work, although unlike Cooper, Rising consciously worked to remain, in her words, within “the vocabulary of…utilitarian furniture.”
This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.
1980, made and owned by the artist; 2004, given by the artist to the MFA (Accession date: March 24, 2004)
Gift of the artist
Reproduced with permission.