Upcoming reception celebrates birdhouse sculptor
It has been said that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Artist Ben Herrington takes that one step further by transforming wood that others discard into distinctive birdhouse sculptures that straddle the line between function and art.
The Nesbitt Gallery is scheduled to host an artist’s reception for Birdhouse…Funhouse, an exhibit of Herrington’s work, beginning at 7 p.m. on June 15. Herrington is expected to be in attendance to answer questions about his work.
The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. The Nesbitt Gallery is located on the first floor of Davis Hall on the campus on the University of Science and Arts.
Birdhouse…Funhouse opened on June 3 and runs through July 12.
Layne Thrift, the gallery’s director and assistant professor of art at USAO, discovered Herrington’s work in the least likely of places.
“The first time I saw Ben’s work was in the Salon W, a hair salon in Nichols Hills,” Thrift said. “Ben’s daughter, Amy, is a stylist there and wanted to display her dad’s work. I was immediately taken in by the unbelievably unique composition of these birdhouses and when I learned that the artist’s work had never been displayed in a gallery before, I couldn’t wait to bring it to the Nesbitt Gallery.”
Thrift said that he has been excited by the audience response to the show so far and is delighted that the Nesbitt has the privilege of being the first gallery to show Herrington’s work.
Herrington’s passion for transforming unwanted wood was born out of practicality.
“When I started developing my skills as a woodworker, one of the things I had to learn how to do was build boxes to learn joinery,” Herrington said. “After a while, I got tired of using nice wood just for practice so I went around the neighborhood and started gathering wood from trashcans and dumpsters.”
In time, though, Herrington found inspiration in his reclaimed treasures.
“I realized how much more I enjoyed working with that wood than with wood you might buy from a store. It has character and it has history,” he said.
Once he got tired of building boxes, the idea struck him to make birdhouses but, in time, they began to transform into something more.
“As I developed my skills as a woodworker, I began to use my skills as an artist and look at birdhouses in a different way,” Herrington said. “That’s what I’m building today. I’m building sculptures that look like birdhouses.”
Years later, Herrington has found an unexpected inspiration in his work.
“The whole process of taking things that people throw away and turning them into something beautiful is the most enjoyable part about it,” Herrington said. “It’s nice that people like and buy them but for me, taking the wood and recognizing that it has more value than being in a trashcan is a spiritual experience.”
More information about the show can be obtained by calling 574-1374.