Week 7- Artist Conversation- Michael VanOverbeck

Artist: Michael VanOverbeck

Exhibition: BFA Thesis Exhibition

Media: Wood

Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Dennis W. Dutzi Gallery

Website: N/A

About the Artist

Michael VanOverbeck is in his last year here at CSULB, but had gone to El Camino College and received a wood working associates degree, he also teaches workshops at the college. He used to study character animation but now uses it as an inspiration for his wood work. He’s been making chairs for a few years and wood working for over 20 years He enjoys being outdoors, fishing, wood working, and art.

Formal Analysis

His work is inspired from craft movements of the 20th century. His multi-color rocking chair, which i felt was his most interesting and he spent the most time describing to me. He was inspired by Sam Maloof, he uses a few “Maloof joints” in the chair. He used scrap wood at first, he just wanted to loosely throw something together and not put in too much effort into it but it didn’t work out that way. He ended up focusing a lot of time on it, 250 hours. There are different shades of wood, which he glued down, no steam was used; just glue and naturally allowed to take shape. The back frame of the chair, made of “s curves” is made to be very flexible to allow comfort. The bottom of the chair that makes it rock, has about 8 different layers of wood. The colors of the wood show how even though all these colors are different, they all go together because they were made with the same material and really just blend into each other. The texture is also extremely smooth.

Content Analysis

From my conversation with him, I really felt this sense of passion and pride from him, he really was so pleased with his exhibit and the multi rocking chair. I recorded our conversation, as to not seem rude about typing everything in my phone and not making eye contact and such, and as I listened to the recording the pride and joy is very clear in his voice. At that time, his daughter was also there and she was just rocking back and forth and just enjoying herself. I think that he’s trying to explore the idea of wood art in people’s home, a more cozy and comfy vibe. He told me about how he he also tries to custom fit the rocking chairs to people. How their elbows should perfectly, naturally fall, the head dress should wrap around their head, also the length of how much is rocks. I think it’s about bringing comfort to people. He talked about how Sam Maloof made chairs that were grand and big, which took up a lot of space, and he made a point of saying that they were too big for a home.

Synthesis / My Experience

I think I felt that the nature of his work was all about implementing objects that we work hard on into our everyday lives and have them be accessible to those around us in a more intimate environment. I’m a huge fan of DIY’s that will make everything at home either look nicer or make tasks easier, in an aesthetically pleasing way. His art was easy to access and touch, which really brought the viewer in. It was art that was okay to touch and utilize. It was an experience that was done individually that could be shared, which is what I feel our work and ideas should have the process of. 


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