Katie Hudnall (b. 1979) builds other-worldly, interactive “furnitural” objects that behave in expected and unexpected ways. She received an MFA in woodworking/furniture design from Virginia Commonwealth University and a BFA in Sculpture from the Corcoran College of Art in Washington, DC. She lives and works in Madison, Wisconsin, where she is an Associate Professor and runs the Wood/Furniture program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Building larger furniture and furniture-like objects from small, rough, discarded bits of wood, I sketch pieces together. There’s intensity and an odd sense of worth in something that has been cobbled together from smaller parts. I don’t hide the connections, and I leave traces of attempts and failures to make something work—an odd map of the logic and processes used to assemble the piece.
These pieces are often fragile-looking, precariously balanced on spindly legs or bases that rock. Each performs some odd function, opening the door on one opens the umbrella-like structure sprouting from the top of another. The system of pulleys and rope that makes the action possible is as cobbled together as the piece itself. The whole thing seems destined to fail, as the whole thing seems destined to collapse. They are metaphors for our relationships with one another. The imperfect edge of one piece fitting perfectly against the imperfect edge of another, pieces whose function suggest protection but offer no real security, and everything seemingly on the verge of collapse, but never quite collapsing. I am tapping into the delight that comes from seeing something work that shouldn’t, the hope that comes from a thing endlessly repaired, no matter how many times it has broken, and the beauty in something textured with imperfections and then worn smooth through use.