UNH woodworking Professor Leah Woods is an achieved artist within her field of talent. She is currently exhibiting 14 pieces of her work at the Cincinnati Art Underground gallery in Ohio. Titled “navigation,” the exhibit conveys the idea of human experiences and will be on display until Saturday, Nov.12.A 10-year member of the UNH faculty, Woods currently teaches a combination of introductory and advanced level woodworking and furniture design classes. When she is not molding the untrained minds in her scholarly profession, she’s in Portsmouth at her co-op art studio creating and constructing elaborate pieces. Her artwork incorporates both an extensive knowledge from her own personal art education and an extensive practice in the field. Her passionate designs and creativity motivates thought and emotion and stirs contemplation to a deeper level.
Woods’ exhibition in Cincinnati opened on Friday, Oct. 14. There was wine and cheese, and Woods was there to install her pieces on the walls of the gallery for guests to gander at. There were three pieces in particular [push, swirl and bulge] that captivate her idea of change.
Cincinnati Art Underground Director Rachael Moore said that Woods’ work is “really incredible.”
“I definitely wanted to work with her as soon as I saw what she was doing,” Moore said.
This is the first time Woods has exhibited any of her artwork in Cincinnati.
“In terms of what she accomplishes with these works, I think she is the best artist that we’ve had in the gallery so far,” Moore said.
The Cincinnati Art Underground’s goal is to showcase artists and establish more connections, according to Moore, who said the gallery communicates with other galleries, collectors, interior designers and the press, and also reaches out to local museums.
“There is a beauty to it, there is a flow, and there is a perfection,” Moore said of Woods’ artwork.
Woods did not just display her artwork in Cincinnati by pure coincidence. She said that her journey in life and art began almost half-way around the globe.
“I started life as far west as I could possibly get within the United States and eventually moved all the way to the East Coast,” Woods said. “I’m not from this area, but I have probably collectively spent the most amount of my life in Worcester [and] New Bedford, [Massachusetts], now New Hampshire.”
Woods said she was born into a military household. She said that her journey began in Hawaii, but she moved to Los Angeles at age two, then San Francisco; the list goes on. Amidst all her life-moves, Woods said she spent some time in Cincinnati, where her artwork is now currently on display.
Woods said that the first time she tried woodworking was at a lumberyard, after opening the newspaper one day and seeing there was a lumberyard up the street from her apartment that was offering woodworking classes.
“Instantly I was just sort of mesmorized by the material, the tactile quality of it and being able to create something that previous had not existed,” she said.
It took many years for Woods to master her trade. She sets herself apart by making contemporary sculpture, experimenting with wood in log form, board form in veneer and creating sculptural maps that communicate experiences.
“Creativity is not anything mystical. It’s just really, really, really, long hard work,” Woods said.
Woods said that her pieces start only with an idea, simply sketching or jotting it down on paper, and then follows countless hours piecing it together in the studio.
“There is a stage very close to the beginning where I come up with the idea, which is hands down the hardest part for me. Having an idea is one thing, but challenging the idea and figuring out,‘Okay I have this idea, what material should it be made out of? What size should it be?’ Then beginning to build the thing,” Woods said. “By the time I get to the end of a piece I check in with myself so many times that I’m usually glad to just get the piece finished so I can move on and get working on the next one.”