Lake Martin Artist Turns Raw Wood Into Arresting Objects

| January 3, 2018 @ 5:00 am

By Jeff Book

The vessels in Michael Young’s boathouse on Lake Martin are not the kind you can ski behind. They’re artful wood creations, sometimes figurative, often abstract, that express his vision of what pieces of tree want to be.

Like the sculptor who releases an imagined form from a block of stone, Young turns raw wood into arresting objects — literally turning them, on the lathes in his boathouse-turned-workshop. He’s a connoisseur of nature’s cracks and curves, of unusual wood grain, knotty burls and striking spalting (flaws caused by microorganisms and fungi acting on wood). Honoring the Japanese concept of wabi sabi (the beauty of imperfection), Young’s work takes many shapes, usually more eye-pleasing than functional.

“If it won’t hold soup, then it’s art,” he says with a smile.As a teenager, he wound up in Wetumpka when his father retired from the Air Force and moved back to his native Alabama. Young studied art in high school, where he met Cindy, who would become his wife of 40 years. He went on to master woodworking as a successful maker of custom shutters and cabinetry. But he always made art on the side.

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