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A weekly look at creativity, arts, and culture in southwest Michigan, hosted by Zinta Aistars.Fridays in Morning Edition at 7:50am and at 4:20pm during All Things Considered.

Art Beat: Of Furniture And Houses

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Mark Andrus
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He’s a craftsman, a designer, and an artist. Ted Lott has even been known to dumpster dive for his materials on occasion.

Sometimes he finds old belongings or vintage furniture and turns them into some of the most unique sculptures imaginable. His pieces are magical: a suitcase lit from the inside that looks like a miniature doll house. Or a chair with legs like stilts and a layer of tiny windows. Lott creates his sculptures at his home in Grand Rapids.

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A conversation with Ted Lott

“A lot of my work centers around found objects,” Lott says. “I studied as a furniture maker and so I have a lot of experience with furniture. My sculpture grows from that experience. A lot of times what I’m doing is using found furniture that I then build in, on, and around to create both sculptural and functional objects that use the platform of the found object and then grow from there.”

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Credit Courtesy of the artist
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Courtesy of the artist
Carpenter Gothic #2 by Ted Lott

When adding to his found object, Lott says he tries to use wood from local sources whenever possible, along with other salvaged or repurposed objects.(P) During his college years, Lott originally considered majoring in sculpture. But he switched to a woodworking and design major to follow a professor who inspired him.

“There’s always been that back and forth play between sculpture and furniture for me,” he says.

Another line of Lott’s artwork is built around old suitcases, transforming them into miniature houses that are lit from the inside.

“I started that after the post-2008 housing market crash,” Lott says. “I started thinking a lot about housing, and there was a debate about immigration. I was thinking about the generations of people who had come to this country with nothing more than what they could carry in their suitcases. They came with those things and they have made a home here. To me, that connection between the suitcase and a home became very resonant.”

Lott received his BFA in Woodworking and Furniture Design from the Maine College of Art, and his MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has shown his work in many solo exhibitions, including at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Swarthmore College, and the University of North Carolina-Charlotte College of Art and Architecture. He has taught woodworking and furniture design at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Murray State University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and he teaches workshops throughout the United States.

Listen to WMUK's Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.

Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.
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