David Greenwood

Born 1944

David Greenwood is a well-known Michigan artist whose art and influence are recognized throughout his home state and the world. He is the recipient of numerous honors and grants including four Michigan Council for the Arts & Cultural Affairs grants and three Fulbright grants for research and teaching abroad. He has exhibited his work widely in the United States and abroad in such places as: Yugoslavia, Serbia, France, Poland, England and Jordan.

A true artist-educator David is Professor Emeritus of Sculpture & Functional Art at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids. He has created and taught in such prestigious institutions as Virginia Commonwealth University, South Carolina’s School for the Arts and Cleveland State University. Here In Michigan he has served on the faculties of Hope College, Grand Valley State, and the Oxbow Summer School of Art.

Greenwood’s primary medium over the past 25 years has been wood but he also has extensive expertise with clay, bronze casting, welding and mixed media. His mixed media work led to experimental performance art projects which were presented in the United States, France and Yugoslavia. There are three primary thematic threads that run thru Mr. Greenwood’s sculpture: 1. metaphors based on kayak and boat forms, 2. animal allegories discussing the human condition, and 3. his latest series of abstracted/invented Seedpods. He says, “”Art-making is a journey inward to discover what is both uniquely personal AND universally human.

Artist Statement

I often think of myself as a male mammal in transit on planer earth. My generous friends have called me “intelligent,” but my inner ear responds to the moon. I enjoy human discourse and debates of logic and ethics, but I am forever subject to passion. I don’t believe we have evolved very far from the primeval swamp. We are masters of technology but not of ourselves. I listen to my body. I try to develop my intellect, but I find that in times of real crisis it serves no purpose. In the studio it must be held at bay.
Intellect depends on words; art must reach beyond words.

I patrol the borderline between the conscious and unconscious mind searching for those images that are both unique and universal. I celebrate the cracks in the veneer of “civilization;” somewhere deep in those crevices truth is waiting. I witness the collision of cultures with a curious kind of optimism. In the ragged no-man’s land between two belief systems reality may reveal itself.

I am interested in primitive cultures, in symbolism and in allegory revealed through rural themes. I begin my work intuitively; I let imagery emerge and evolve as it will, and later impose formal restrictions upon it. There is always a certain amount of assemblage involved in my work, even if all the objects are handmade. Juxtaposition is critical to what I am trying to say. For me, life is a series of juxtaposed events, of random encounters and moments in time. We do our best to make sense of the comic and tragic that sometimes run parallel paths but often collide.

Since I began working in wood, I have enjoyed the option of working quite large. I prefer a 1:1 (life-size) scale. I am more interested in creating places than things. I hope my work presents a situation rather than an object. Many of my works seem to invite the physical participation of the viewer. There is a suggestion/absence of human form. Viewers of my work should enjoy the little mysteries. I hope they will feel that they have arrived in a situation where something has just happened or is about to happen. Each person can imagine what went before and what will occur next according to his/her individual experience.

I hope my work is both visually exciting and stimulating to the imagination. Good questions are more valuable than good answers.

Works in the Park