2020/2021 Award of Distinction recipient
The Furniture Society is thrilled to announce Kristina Madsen as the 2020/2021 recipient of its coveted Award of Distinction. Her award will be presented at the 2021 conference in Asheville, North Carolina. The award, designed and fabricated by TFS member Fred Rose, will be presented by long-time friend and supporter Andrew Glasgow.
Throughout their deliberation process, the jurors (Andy Buck, Kathryn Hall and Craig Nutt) reflected on how their selection may “strengthen the fabric of the Furniture Society community” overall, considering how their selection adds value to the award program by diversifying the present roster of award recipients while also recognizing an invaluable member of the Furniture Society. They describe Kristina Madsen as a truly exceptional furniture maker who has made a significant impact on the field through her unique way of combining classic European cabinet-making techniques with traditional Fijian carving to produce furniture that truly embodies her own style. She first studied under English furniture maker David Powell in Massachusetts and later in the 1980s, she began incorporating Fijian carving techniques that she learned from Fiji carver Makiti Koto, during a Fulbright-sponsored apprenticeship. Over the years, Madsen has demonstrated a remarkable dedication to her craft by forging her own path through her independent practice. Her work can be found in many public and private collections and she has influenced other makers.
Madsen is noted by her nominators for her fine craftsmanship and “meticulous sense of detail.” One of her nominators noted that she “often devotes half a year or more to a single work, taking great care of every detail of her designs”. In his nomination letter, 2019 Award of Distinction Honoree Tom Loeser calls Madsen a “national treasure”. We couldn’t agree more!
“As the carved surface has become more and more important to my furniture design, I have begun to view my work as a study of pattern, with furniture as its medium.”
Kristina Madsen was trained in furniture making in 1975 – 79 by British master craftsman, David Powell, at the Leeds Design Workshop in Easthampton, MA. She was Artist-in-Residence in the School of Art at the University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania in 1988. Her awards include the New England Foundation for the Arts Regional Fellowship for Visual Artists in 1997; a Fulbright Grant to study woodcarving in Fiji in 1991; and a National Endowment for the Arts Craftsman’s Fellowship in 1981. Madsen’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT; Fuller Museum of Art, Brockton, MA; Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA; Fine Arts Center, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC; and the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
Deirdre Visser sat down with Kristina Madsen to talk about her life, her career as a maker, and why she loves to carve.