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Artist, Scientist Seri Robinson Showcases Spalted Wood Works at UHD’s O’Kane Gallery

'Intersections' on View Feb. 6 – April 2


By Mike Emery

On the exterior, trees and even pieces of dead wood can resemble natural, majestic works of art. Internally, there also exists intricate layers, colors and patterns that rival any man made sculpture or painting.

Spalted wood is an example of nature’s creativity. Spalting occurs when fungi affects wood’s pigmentation, creating patterns and colors. Artist/scientist Dr. Seri Robinson works with this material producing woodturned art that is both colorful and compelling.

Houstonians soon will experience Robinson’s creative vision when the artist debuts the exhibition “Intersections” in the University of Houston-Downtown’s O’Kane Gallery. The show, containing 19 woodturned works, runs Feb. 6 - April 2. An opening reception with the artist is scheduled for 6 p.m., Feb 6.

Robinson’s background as an associate professor of wood anatomy at Oregon State University and expert woodturner have fueled the creation of the exhibition’s works.

“Intersections, in particular, fascinate me, and spalted woodturning is the perfect medium to explore both internal and external intersections,” Robinson writes in an artist’s statement. “Spalted wood offers endless opportunities to explore and expose intersections both historic, modern, personal, and external.”

The upcoming exhibition marks Robinson’s first UHD exhibition and the first show dedicated to woodturned art within the O’Kane Gallery. According to gallery director and UHD professor of art Mark Cervenka, Robinson fuses functionality with the abstract, creating shapes that are familiar and fascinating.

“It’s certainly an exciting exhibition for our gallery and the community,” Cervenka said. “We look forward to welcoming Robinson to campus and hosting these works.”

Artists and woodworkers alike have long valued spalted wood for its unique colors, particularly blue hues. Robinson’s keen eye and creative sensibilities are effective in crafting works that highlight the natural properties of this wood.

“All of the color found in Robinson’s works are found naturally within the wood,” he said. “Fungi actually create the unique patterns and mosaics that occupy these pieces.”

Robinson previously visited UHD for a lecture hosted by the College of Sciences & Technology. That particular stop at UHD provided Cervenka with an opportunity to meet Robinson and propose an on-campus exhibition.

As Robinson indicated in the aforementioned artist statement, spalted wood art is a perfect “intersection of science and art.” Cervenka certainly agrees and said the timing is right for this exhibition at UHD.

“This exhibition has been scheduled to celebrate the recent formal opening of UHD’s College of Sciences & Technology Building this semester,” Cervenka said. “It’s a perfect complement to what’s happening at the University with regard to the sciences and to the gallery’s commitment to showcasing interdisciplinary artwork.”

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.