Kate Davidson 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?
I’m still very new to the field of woodworking and had never shown in a major exhibition, so it was an amazing feeling to be selected for this show. For me, one of the most meaningful aspects of the exhibit was that it brought so many people together physically in one place, meeting and seeing each other’s work in person. We live all across the country, and all work in different ways (sculpture, CNC, color, engineering), but the visibility of this show helps develop a stronger sense of community among women and non-binary makers and demonstrates the collective strength of our work.
What advice would you give your younger self about getting into woodworking?
I loved woodworking in high school, but despite having really tool-competent and active female family members it somehow never occurred to me that building things could be a full-time pursuit. I always thought, “isn’t it great that you know how to use a drill, that will always be useful on side projects.” Now that I build furniture and have worked in construction and the trades, I wish I’d realized earlier how that obviously isn’t true.
I’m still constantly trying to find the balance between “artist” and “woodworker” in my own work. The art part of me wants to create something wild and innovative that pushes a boundary. The woodworker wants to focus on technique and skills. It’s been an important lesson to understand that sometimes these parts overlap in a single piece, and other times not so much. It’s equally valid to spend weeks fine-tuning a single complex work, to quickly explore shapes and ideas right off the bandsaw, or to simply build something classic. I’m still trying to learn that particular lesson.
Which piece in the exhibition stood out the most to you?
Really difficult. Probably my two absolute favorites are Katie Hudnall’s “Spirits Cabinet” and Sarah Martin’s “Wherever Your Treasure Lies”. Both just have so many details to discover, and the textures, shapes, and colors are so rich. I find both of them wonderfully tricky and playful, and haven’t been able to get them out of my head. Seeing Yuri Kobayashi’s piece in person, with the little metal pins holding together each of the bent pieces, was simply incredible. Annie Evelyn’s chair just makes me really want to explore and have so much fun. I also thought Chris Lee’s and Vivian Chiu’s works were simply jaw dropping – they created so much effect with a single repeated shape. I could spend hours just staring at them.