Jay McDougall

Jay McDougall

I have chosen to live and work in rural Minnesota. I work out of a studio on the same property as the home we built on the beautiful Ottertail River. I’m thankful to have been able to earn a living as an artist (along with my wife who is also a visual artist) while living and raising our family in a small town setting. We are both very involved in our community where we enjoy a flourishing culture of arts and a supportive group of fellow artists.

Utilizing material that is very accessible is compatible with my goal of practicing, maintaining, and enriching a sustainable lifestyle. It also allows me to work with a material with which I share an intimacy. These are the trees that I have played and worked amongst my entire life. I strive for efficiency in my forms where less can be more, and have achieved the discipline required to resist overworking the material. I am constantly challenging myself to keep moving and to remain fully engaged in my process. My work progresses in steps or layers with each one clearing a path to the next level. This allows me to remain relatively sane and highly motivated.

My career, family, home, surroundings, and the objects I create have truly become one entity. They are inseparable and define who and what I am. My pieces are very personal things to me. When you acquire one of them you are getting more than a mere object, you are also accepting a part of me.

Jay comes from a family steeped in generations of art and craftsmanship. He received his BS degree in Industrial Education with an emphasis in Wood Technology and Furniture Design from UW Stout, Menomonie, WI. Jay has also studied with Tage Frid, Dale Nish, and Lissi Oland. Influences include the works and philosophies of George Nakashima, James Krenov, and Constantin Brançusi. His career as a self-employed artist has evolved over a 30 year span.

Opening his studio in 1982, McDougall’s early years were spent designing and building original pieces of furniture. He has also been a contributing writer for Fine WoodWorking Magazine. His sculpted wall pieces and vessels are the distillation of this career spent pursuing economy of line and form. Jay has garnered numerous national awards for excellence in his field and was selected as a 2008 McKnight Foundation Fellowship recipient. Today’s discriminating contemporary craft collectors can find Jay’s work in the nation’s most prestigious venues for acquisition.

My sculpture is produced in the reductive method of sculpture where material is removed to reveal the form, much like the process used to carve marble. I strive to cut away all that is ephemeral to yield only that which is essential. I chose wood as my carving material for its eternal warmth and life. These qualities serve to enhance the fluidity of many of my pieces while reinforcing the primal essence of others. I select distinctive logs from hardwood trees that have already fallen or been marked for removal near my studio in rural Minnesota. All of my pieces are carved from a single block of material. This distinguishes my work from most other wood collectibles in that it involves no glue-ups or joinery.  All of my work is carved and does not involve any lathe work, yet another feature that solidly positions my pieces in a very select group. I bring a contrasting element to my wall pieces via the steel backs on which they are mounted. These feature a dark, mottled patina that I’ve developed and applied.

My pieces have the affect of connecting with viewers at a visceral level; they touch something deep inside. These forms surpass transient trends and styles; they are timeless in their classic contemporary beauty and bring with them a calming presence that fits seamlessly into wide-ranging architectural styles.

Jay McDougall