When Wood Becomes Art

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Furniture maker Kristina Madsen ’73 is honored with a $100,000 Award in Craft

Kristina Madsen ’73 was recently named one of the first five recipients of the newly established Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation Awards in Craft, an honor that brings with it an unrestricted $100,000 grant. The award is yet another milestone in the remarkable career of the acclaimed Southampton, Massachusetts, furniture maker, who previously received a Fulbright grant to study woodcarving in Fiji, as well as fellowships from, among others, the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. She also received the Furniture Society Award of Distinction for 2020-2021 and is a 2022 Fellow in the American Craft Council College of Fellows.

The Awards in Craft honorees were selected last spring for “their unique and visionary approach to material-based practice, their potential to make significant contributions to their craft in the future, and the potential for this award to provide momentum at a critical juncture in their career.” In recognizing Madsen, the foundation cited her “masterful style,” which “features freehand intaglio carving inspired by her study of European cabinet-making and traditional Fijian wood carving.”

Madsen’s pieces are currently held in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and Yale University Art Gallery, among numerous others. Several years ago, she explained, she began building a series of new and exploratory pieces for exhibition. “This stupendous gift from the Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation is allowing me to move forward with uninterrupted concentration and to pour my creative energy into untried and challenging work,” she says. “I am honored by and deeply grateful for this recognition.”