Erin Irber is one of 43 fine woodworkers who are showcased in the exhibition Making a Seat at the Table: Women Transform Woodworking. We conducted a brief interview via email to find out more about her work.
Why is this exhibition important to you?
This exhibit has importance on a number of levels. Laura and Deidre created a platform for women to show their mastery of the craft and their diversity of perspectives for an international audience. It shows the breadth and depth of work created by an underrepresented group. It is a space carved out within the woodworking community that is for women, this way it eliminates any stereotypes of what a woodworker could and should be; no longer tokenizing the woman woodworker. None of us are questioning if we got into the show based on our talents or merits as woodworkers or if we got in just to have a woman for diversity purposes. It truly is empowering to be a part of such an important exhibition, and an honor to be included among trail-blazing women who are my personal role-models in the field.
On another level, because of the prestige of the exhibit and the sheer talent shown, it is an example and inspiration for young women to enter the field. It gives women a way to see themselves in a nontraditional field.
What advice would you give your younger self about getting into woodworking?
I would tell my younger self that there is a path and it will unfold. It took me a number of years to allow myself to follow a path based on what I enjoy. I now work in a cabinet shop and would not have ever seen myself in this role if it weren’t for taking myself seriously as a woodworker.
Which piece in the exhibition stood out the most to you?
I would have to say that the pieces that stand out to me the most are also very well known to me. Jodie Prud’homme’s cabinet and Sarah Watlington’s chair are outstanding. I had the pleasure of watching both of these artist’s creative process while attending the Krenov School. Their perspectives, thoughtful intent, and exceptional execution was inspiring for me. I learned a lot from watching these women work.
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