Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wednesday Wonder: 'Grain Chaser' Virgil Leih

I didn't create that grain, I didn't create that beauty. 
All I did was [be] a participant to reveal the beauty
that was already there. 
~ Artist Virgil Leih

Minnesota wood-turner Virgil Leih haunts urban "tree trunk dumps" looking for logs he can reclaim for his art. A self-professed "grain chaser", Leih limits himself to native woods, among them ash, walnut, cottonwood, and maple, rescuing from the chipping machines huge (2,000- to 4,000-pound) trunks whose shape, texture, and grain catch his eye. He says it's his privilege to let the beauty that's hidden in nature's raw material be revealed. 

In the wonderful Minnesota Original profile below, Leih, who comes from a family of woodworkers, describes how his need for a challenge in retirement motivated him to become the innovative wood sculptor he is today. The monumental vessels he creates are impressive not only in scale but also in beauty. They reflect a genuine passion both for material and craft.

For a photo series about Leih's creative process, much of which he had to devise on his own to accommodate the huge pieces he shapes, go here.

Virgil Tree Trunk Art on FaceBook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, "Spring Trunk Show II" with Virgil Leih, March 19, 2010 - May 2, 2010 

Randy Johnson, "Scrap Wood to Polished Wood", American Woodworker Blog, April 28, 2009

My thanks to On Being blog, where I first learned about Leih.


l said...

Maureen, this is amazing. Now I'm trying to figure out if I can swing a day trip over to Minneapolis before the end of the month... ;)

Lyla Willingham Lindquist said...

Maureen, thanks for posting this. It's amazing. Now I'm trying figure whether I can swing a day trip to Minneapolis before the end of the month. ;)

Hannah Stephenson said...

Oh, wow. I'm so glad you shared this.

I was thinking of Edward Burtynsky's work while reading about Leih's...there's something similar, right?

S. Etole said...

Beautiful, beautiful work.