Myths form an integral part of every culture, changing forms and nuances as they traverse the globe. From interpreting natural phenomena to deducing where life originated from, civilisations have used mythology to give meaning to the otherwise chaotic ways of the world. It is through mythology that we gain a sense of order and a common ideal to look up to, creating the quintessential figures of gods and supernatural beings in different cultures. Paintings inside caves, etchings in stone, tombs, and monuments are time-honoured testimonies of the presence of mythological figures through the centuries and their gradual evolution into religions.
Today, in an increasingly cosmopolitan world where rationale subjugates all else, mythology-induced wonder seems to be a rare occurrence. New Jersey-based artist and sculptor Casey McCafferty aspires to revive this declining admiration in his latest body of work dubbed Transcendence. The ensemble of sculptural furniture will be on display from September 1, 2022 through October 2022, at The Future Perfect in Los Angeles. “I don’t start to conceptualise anything until I start carving. I have a general idea of what I want, but once I begin in the studio, everything unfolds before me,” says Casey McCafferty. “It was like that for all of my pieces in Transcendence, and they tell a story together,” he adds.
True to its name, Transcendence is the sculptor’s effort to strive toward the boundless and sublime. Drawing inspiration from mythology, McCafferty creates his own through sculptures that inspire him. These works reach out to the extraordinary due to the intellectual storylines that they reflect and the complementary larger-than-life gestures that their forms symbolise. The intricate paths ingrained in the furniture designs and the organic contours of the silhouettes are informed by the story McCafferty wishes to tell. The journey of the designs’ materialisation is an amalgamation of the physical, the mental and the spiritual. “My work has always been about passion. It started with old hand tools to learn and feel the wood and led to carving abstract shapes from the depths of my soul,” shares the furniture designer.
The works included in the Transcendence collection have a highly linguistic design language showcasing the distinctive expression consistent throughout McCafferty’s oeuvre. The collection encompasses a range of sculptural table designs—coffee table, side tables, and dining table—chair designs and bench designs. The series of wooden furniture epitomises a quality of storytelling through materials and silhouettes, a story—not necessarily linear—of the designer’s life events and perceptions of the world. Although most of his designs are donned in natural and neutral tones of black, white and brown, some pieces of the ensemble diverge from this aesthetic and stand out in vivid blues and reds. “Although the wood is beautiful, I kept having visions of my sculptures in bright colours,” McCafferty explains. “I am following that thought pattern to see if it feels as good in the physical as it felt in the mental,” he adds.
The pieces vacillating between furniture design and sculptural art inject a sense of wonder in mundane objects through mythological compositions. This artistic language that comes naturally to McCafferty actualises through the shapes created by the natural strokes of the hand tools. “It is very similar to my drawings in a notebook. My doodles look very similar to my sculptures,” shares the sculptor. Refraining from the practice of sketching or diagramming before work, McCafferty commences his design process with chunks of wood that are then hand-carved. “I usually think about stories I have read or the world around me and let it come out in the woods. I rarely know what the finished form will look like till I am 75% through with the work,” says McCafferty. The materials for the creations are sourced locally, a conscious step towards sustainability in production methods and material choices.
Each object displayed in the design exhibition speaks for itself. Despite the vastness of the collection, the designer achieves the interconnection between his designs almost naturally. “Evolvement for my sculptural pieces happens over months—not days—so there is a nice language that continues through most if not all of my work. Some minor detail in a work from two years ago might be the major detail or reference point for a new body of work now,” explains the American artist. McCafferty’s sculptural forms, exuding contemporaneity and vernacularism in tandem, can blend in both a gallery space and a getaway cabin. Traditional techniques join forces with experimentation, reminiscing nature and the boundaries between craftsmanship, art, and technique.
Through Transcendence, McCafferty lays bare his interpretation of vernacular design that becomes a window to the mythological in daily life, allowing one to transcend the ordinary with a renewed sense of wonder.
Transcendence will be on display from September 01, 2022, through October, 2022, at The Future Perfect in Los Angeles, United States.