A.J. found wood turned art through his first love in arts: music. He began building custom drums, learning to turn in pursuit of the perfect sound. What he found instead was a love for imperfect, discarded wood. He saw in those pieces of wood what he saw in himself after returning home from a combat tour in Iraq, as well as those he now currently works with as a clinical social worker in emergency departments and research settings.
A.J. approaches each piece by letting the wood dictate the journey. He enjoys taking flaws that other woodworkers and woodturners would avoid, and using different techniques and materials, highlights the cracks, inclusions, and bug holes he finds. He also enjoys turning green or wet wood, letting it move and warp as it dries, further allowing the wood to express itself in the process.
He uses his work to explore themes of radical self-acceptance, life and death, life transitions, and sometimes turns just because it makes him happy. A.J. also uses the solitude of turning as a time for reflection and self-care, to let go of and process emotional transference brought on by his work as a social worker.
Outside of the shop and work, A.J. is active in and supports several mental health and veteran focused non-profits, and is a loving husband and father.
I am constantly inspired by people around me who do not know how beautiful they are BECAUSE of their flaws, not in spite of them. We tend to focus on individual imperfections and rough edges instead of looking at the entirety and accepting who we are. I strive to reflect this perspective in my art by not hiding any imperfections I find, instead incorporating them into the piece. Some pieces of wood are nearly flawless, others take extraordinary amounts of work just to keep them together long enough to turn them. All of them have value and beauty and should be celebrated, just as we should be celebrating each other.