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Tom Griffin

Wood / Lafayette, LA

Artist Statement

As a child I always enjoyed working with my hands and admired the folk art created by the people near my birthplace in rural Kentucky.
When I could no longer work in building construction I started filling my days making wooden toys for my grandchildren. Then one year I decided to grow some gourds to make birdhouses. Once my first crop came in my curiosity led me to research various ways to embellish gourds which also led me to pine needle basketry. I purchased a book on the subject and began creating pine needle baskets similar to those produced by Native Americans in the southern US where I lived.
After hurricane Katrina I was displaced and spent time as a work/study taking week long courses at John Campbell Folk School in North Carolina concentrating on carving of both wood and wet cement. While there in addition to learning about traditional Appalachian folk art I discovered the lost art of fan carving, an old world folk art brought to America by immigrants from Scandinavia.
Today I work with a variety of natural materials most of which are grown and gathered near my home in Louisiana. In my work I try to limit myself to traditional hand tools rather than power tools. My designs originally were influenced by Appalachian folk art of Kentucky and North Carolina and in recent years I have started to focus on subjects unique to the rich Cajun culture of south Louisiana.

Biography

Received a BS degree in Construction Technology from LSU then later in life I attended UL Lafayette studying Architecture. I worked as a building contractor for many years. I soon discovered that I preferred remodeling and restoration rather than constructing new buildings or highways and bridges. With remodeling and restoration and working within the confines of an existing building I learned that I enjoyed the challenge and creativity required to modernize and update the existing structure while maintaining the original character of the building rather than starting a new structure. For me this process was similar to working with the natural form of a gourd or a piece of wood and seeing how I could modify or possibly improve the character of the raw material.