Some artists communicate through written prose or a collection of brush strokes on canvas. Others use the warm notes of a cello, conjuring emotion through the dance of bow and string. Nashville-based woodworker Christian Fecht converses through grains – and he does it eloquently.
“My interest in woodworking is an interest in developing proficiency with a language that I can use to express myself and communicate with others,” says Christian. “The end goal, and perhaps this is a bit over-ambitious, isn’t to make a table or carve a bowl, but to communicate an idea or point out beauty.” Continuing on that theme, he likens it to the way a poet interacts with language, familiarizing himself with a deeper understanding of how it works and an unquenchable penchant for words. It’s an understanding that can only come through practice.
Encouraging others to rise above mindless consumption and mass-produced products, Christian is working to bring dignity and history back to material goods, letting the pieces intertwine themselves into the everyday stories of our lives – a dining room table soaking in long dinner conversations, a bed holding the weight of a love story, a bowl brimming with seasonal produce year after year.
“We buy cheap products or cycle through trends, and our objects are never given the time to transcend what they actually are. So that’s what I hope for in my work. That it becomes more than simply what it is. That it opens up the space in our lives to be more connected to ourselves and our stories because those are the good things in life,” he says.
Christian’s products are constructed to carry with them generations of stories, the wood weathering as the pages turn. And while he is the craftsman behind the goods, he believes the true artist is the wood itself; all he needs to do is draw out that beauty.
“Wood is such a great partner because she has her own artistic expression, her own craft that she pursues her entire lifetime. Sometimes it’s hundreds of years, but underneath her skin is some of the most beautiful artwork I’ve ever seen,” he explains. “The joy for me is that I get to help her showcase her work.”
After a long day of work, while sweeping up piles of sawdust and shutting down the machinery, Christian’s work showcases his ability to take a gritty, nuanced piece of the wilderness and turn it into something functional and stunning. Through meandering lines, graceful curves and varying shades of earth tones, he sends his message of significance and sentiment.