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"My mentor said that the lathe is a very creative tool that most people don't use that way. They make bowls and spindles and that's it. So I thought I should really try to do something here."

Woodworker Mark Sfirri continually blurs the line separating woodturning from sculpture. Sfirri, who earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Rhode Island School of Design in 1974, and his Master of Fine Arts from the same institution in 1978, was heavily influenced by his mentor Tage Frid, who encouraged the young Sfirri to use his primary tool, the lathe, in new and creative ways. Sfirri uses the lathe to create conventional bowls and spindles which he then manipulates using multi-centered spindles, and a series of crosscuts; the resulting pieces combine concave and convex surfaces with curvilinear contours. Sfirri states, "as a furniture maker and sculptor, much of my work centers around the wood lathe-turned object. Turned pieces sometimes turned on several different axes have allowed me to explore form in a spontaneous, mathematical, creative way." Well known for his bold composition and meticulous attention to detail, Sfirri has collaborated on individual pieces with numerous other artists, including Michael Hosaluk, and painter Robert Dodge.

Sfirri grew up in Middletown, Pennsylvania and studied fine arts at Penncrest. He attended the Rhode Island School of Design for his undergraduate and graduate degrees. His first job was as an industrial designer, but he did not find it as creatively fulfilling. He has taught at Bucks County Community College since 1981 as an Associate Professor of Fine Woodworking.

Sfirri has published numerous articles in journals such as American Woodworker and Fine Woodworking. Sfirri is a sought-after lecturer and has given talks all over the United States and the world. He has been a guest of the French government, giving three-week courses instructing French turners in the art of lathe turning and has been a guest speaker at the Association of Woodturners of Great Britain Conference at the University of Warwick.

He has a strong interest in the woodworker Wharton Esherick. His work has been reviewed and featured in Australian, British, and Canadian publications and in many prominent newspapers and magazines in the United States. In 2012, he was the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from Collectors of Wood Art.

Mark Sfirri's sculpture Cubism Stool (2017), as well as his collaboration with artist Robert Dodge in Folding Screen (1989), were part of the exhibition Nakashima Looks: Studio Furniture at the Michener (2019), guest curated by Mira Nakashima. The exhibition highlighted the Museum's most significant studio craft holdings.

Education & Community

Education and Training
Rhode Island School of Design, BFA, Providence, Rhode Island, 1974
Rhode Island School of Design, MFA, Providence, Rhode Island, 1978

Teachers and Influences
Teachers: Claude Falcone and Tage Frid
Other artists: Stephen Hogbin, Alphonse Mattia, Jere Osgood, Brancusi

Connection to Bucks County
Mark Sfirri has been teaching at Bucks County Community College since 1981. He lives in Bucks County and maintains a studio in New Hope, Pennsylvania.

Colleagues and Affiliations
Robert Dodge, Bruce Katsiff, David Ellsworth, Jack Thompson, Caren Friedman, Jon Alley, Mark Benson. Bucks Woodturners (local chapter of American Association of Woodturners)


Major Solo Exhibitions
Aughinbaugh Gallery, Messiah College, Mark Sfirri: A View from Left Field, Grantham, Pennsylvania, 2011
Conservation by Design
, Rhode Island Scholl of Design Museum, Providence, RI, 1993
Sansar Gallery, Washington DC, Solo Exhibition, 1989
Genest Gallery, Lambertville NJ, Solo Exhibition, 1987
Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence RI, MFA Thesis Exhibition, 1978

Select Group Exhibitions
Michener Art Museum, Nakashima Looks: Studio Furniture at the Michener, Doylestown, PA 2019
Michener Art Museum, Intelligent Design, Doylestown Pennsylvania, 2012
Washington Building Galleries, Poplar Culture: A Celebration of a Tree, invitational exhibit sponsored by the Wharton Esherick Museum, Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, 2012
Minneapolis Institute of Art, Conversations With Wood, traveling exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis Minnesota, 2011
Tin Man Gallery, Art for Animals, for the benefit of River's Wish Animal Sanctuary, Spokane, Washington, 2011
The Renwick Gallery (Smithsonian Institution), A Revolution in Wood: The Bresler Collection, Washington DC, 2010
Michener Art Museum, An Evolving Legacy: Twenty Years of Collecting at the Michener Art Museum, Doylestown Pennsylvania, 2009
Museum of Arts and Design, Permanent Collection, New York, New York, 2008
Forum North, CollaboratioNZ Auction, Whangarei, New Zealand, 2007
The Association of Woodturners of Great Britain, Twentieth Anniversary of the AWGB Exhibition, Great Britain, 2007
Bucks County Chamber of Commerce, Bucks County Elegance: Works in Wood, Doylestown Pennsylvania, 2007
Museum of Arts & Design, Nature Transformed, New York, New York, 2006
Ohio Craft Museum, Columbus OH, Our Turn Now: Artists Speak out in Wood, Columbus, Ohio, 2006
Michener Art Museum, New Hope PA, Objects of Desire: Treasures from Private Collections, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 2005
I.M. Pei Building Lobby, Artists' Reflections: the Work of Mark Sfirri and Robert Dodge, Wilmington Delaware, 2005
Renwick Gallery of Smithsonian American Art Museum, Celebrating Craft, auction sponsored by the Renwick Alliance, Washington DC, 2002
Minneapolis Institute of Art, Woodturning in North America Since 1930, Minneapolis, Minnesota; exhibition traveled to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut and the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC, 2001
Art Gallery at Yale University, New Haven CT, Please Be Seated, New Haven, Connecticut, 1999
University of Warwick, Selections from the Association of Woodturners of Great Britain, Coventry England; exhibition traveled to National Exhibition Center, Birmingham, the International Woodworking Exhibition, Wembley and the ATMC Trade Show, 1999
Michener Art Museum, invitational for Bucks County Woodworkers, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 1998
Renwick Gallery, A Madcap Teapot Party, sponsored by the Renwick Alliance for the benefit of the Renwick Gallery, Washington, DC, 1996
The Los Angeles Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles CA, Turned Objects from the Collection of Dr. Irving Lipton, Los Angeles, California, 1995
The Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia PA, The Philadelphia Furniture Show, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1995
Hagley Museum, Art from the Lathe, in conjunction with the World Turning Conference, Wilmington, Delaware, 1993
Detroit Gallery of Contemporary Art, Clocks, Detroit, Michigan, 1993
INNOVA, Houston TX and Parsons School of Design, New York NY, Furniture of the Nineties, sponsored by the American Society of Furniture Artists (ASOFA), 1992
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia Woodworkers, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1991
Michener Art Museum, In Our Circle, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 1991
Society for Art in Craft, Innovations in Wood, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1989
American Craft Museum, Bewitched by Craft, New York, New York, 1988
Craft Alliance, St. Louis MO, Works off of the Lathe, St. Louis, Missouri, 1988
The International Design Center, Architectural League of New York, The Chair Fair, New York, New York, 1986
The Hand and the Spirit, The Art of Woodworking, Scottsdale, Arizona, 1986
Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Woodturning: Vision and Concept, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, 1985
Port of History Museum, Furniture by Philadelphia Woodworkers, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1983
American Craft Museum, Young Americans, New York, New York, 1977

Sfirri has also participated in multiple shows at the Bucks County Community College, Renwick Gallery in Washington, DC (Smithsonian Institution), the Mint Museum of Craft and Design in Charlotte, North Carolina, University of the Arts in Philadelphia, SOFA/Chicago, Wood Turning Center in Philadelphia, and the Brookfield Craft Center in Connecticut.

Selected Lectures and Workshops:
Lecture on the life and work of Wharton Esherick, hosted by the Fairhope Museum of History and the Fairhope Public Library, Fairhope, Alabama, 2011
Featured Demonstrator, Desert Woodturning Roundup, Mesa, Arizona, 2011
Symposium lecture at the University of Pennsylvania, "Wharton Esherick: The Birth of the American Modern", Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2010
Featured Demonstrator at the annual American Association of Woodturners (AAW) Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, 2009
Aha Hana Lima Workshop sponsored by Hawai'i Craftsmen, Honolulu Hawai'i, 2008
Masterclass and Demonstration, Galway Ireland, 2008
CollaborationNZ, a ten-day international collaborative conference, New Zealand, 2007
Featured Demonstrator and Lecturer, Annual Irish Turning Conference, Dublin, Ireland, 2003
Demonstrator and Lecturer, Artistic Woodturning Worldwide, Conference, Puy St. Martin, France, 2000 & 2003
Demonstrator and Lecturer, Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC, 2002
Lecturer and Demonstrator, Yale University Gallery of Art, New Haven, Connecticut, 2002
Two-Week Workshop, Puy St. Martin, France, Sponsored by the French Government, 1998 & 1999
Demonstrator, AWGB International Woodturning Seminar 1999, Worcestershire, England, 1999
Demonstrator, Collaboration Conference, sponsored by the Saskatchewan Crafts Council, Emma Lake, Saskatchewan, 1998
Lecturer, Renwick Gallery, Washington DC, 1993
Lecturer, "Sitting on Art", sponsored by the Wharton Esherick Museum and Elder Hostel, West Chester Pennsylvania, 1993
Lecturer, School for American Craftsmen, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester New York, 1990
Demonstrator, Brookfield Craft Center, Brookfield, Connecticut, 1988, 1987
Lecturer, Furniture Design Symposium, Bucks County Community College, Newtown Pennsylvania, 1983
Demonstrator, Penland School of Crafts, Penland, North Carolina, 1977

Awards & Appointments

Teaching and Professional Appointments
Visiting Artist, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 2011
Visiting Artist, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Gatlinburg Tennessee, 2006
Visiting Artist, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Craft Department, Richmond Virginia, 2006
Professor, Bucks County Community College, Fine Woodworking Program, 1981-
Coordinator of the Fine Woodworking Program, BCCC, 1991-
Art Area Head, Division of the Arts, BCCC, administrative position, 1994-96
School for American Craftsmen, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Summer Course, 1981-82
Rhode Island School of Design, Adjunct, 1977-78
Rhode Island School of Design, Summer, 1975-77
Rhode Island School of Design, Full Time Assistant to Professor Tage Frid, 1974-77

Major Awards:
Lifetime Achievement Award, Collectors of Wood Art, 2012
Visiting Artist Grant, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 2011
Distinguished Educator Award, Renwick Alliance, 2010
Visiting Artist Grant, Collectors of Wood Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 2008
Curators Award, Craftforms 2007, exhibit at Wayne Art Center, Mark Leach curator (from Mint Museum of Craft + Design), 2007
Curators Award, Craftforms 2006, exhibit at Wayne Art Center, Gretchen Kenelworth curator (from Fuller Craft Museum), 2006
Visiting Artist Grant, Collectors of Wood Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 2003
Niche Award Finalist, 1998
Cultural Incentive Grant, Bucks County Community College, 1997
Beckett's Sports Publication Award Winner, 1996
Niche Award Finalist, 1993
Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Fellowship Award, 1987
Bucks County Community College Alumni Award for Professional Achievement, 1987

Affiliations and Memberships:
The Furniture Society
Bucks Wood Turners (local chapter of AAW)
Wood Turning Center (WTC)
American Crafts Council (ACC)
Collectors of Wood Art (CWA)
American Association of Woodturners (AAW)

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