October 01, 2021 MAKER SERIES
Maker Series – Sean Desiree
Artist + woodworker Sean Desiree has been a friend of MINNA since we made our home in Hudson, crafting some of our pieces in the shop including our rug hangers. We were excited to spend time in the studio with Sean as part of our Maker Series, learning how our rug hangers are made, and seeing our Utility Apron in motion.
By Autumn Jordan
What is your name + what do you make?
Sean Desiree. Sculptures, art objects and furniture.
How was Sean Desiree Studio conceived?
It has been many years in the making and has transformed greatly over time. I started out under another name, South End Pallet Works where I solely considered myself a furniture maker, mainly focusing on tables. Once my practice expanded into visual art, Sean Desiree Studio was conceived. It was actually through my debut art show at MINNA in 2019 that I began to identify as an artist.
When did you start practicing your craft, and how has it evolved?
I’ve been a woodworker for about 7 years. The first 2-3 years I taught myself the craft through youtube videos, tips from other woodworkers and by taking a few workshops at the Arts Center of the Capital Region. Within the last two years I’ve expanded my practice by learning timber framing. This skill has been crucial to my path in creating public art sculptures.
What does a day in the studio look like for you?
It depends on what type of project I’m working on. I do not have a permanent studio setup but have made two spaces work. When I am creating furniture pieces I work out of a shared makerspace in Troy, and when I’m working on a public art sculpture I work in a vacant lot across from my home. I enjoy having the option to work outdoors for the entire day. It does present challenges because I do not have electricity and I have to bring all of my tools back and forth every time.
What inspires you + your work?
I want to to create sculptures/structures that can function as sanctuaries, and protectors for queer and trans BIPOC. I want to support people in connecting with their emotions and to offer a space of refuge and a place where people can access themselves. I want to reflect that humanity and dignity I see in others with my work.
We love how your art + furniture often use recycled or “discarded” materials, like palettes and salvaged wood. How does using “found” or “repurposed” materials inform your practice?
Using found wood forces me to be more improvisational because I can’t just plan everything down to the last detail, I’m at the whim of what is available. Sometimes what I make is directly inspired by the wood I find, whole projects have come out of finding one type of wood. The nature of finding my material pushed me to be out in the world and aware of my surroundings in a way that doesnt happen if your materials are easily accessible online or in a store. It makes it more like a scavenger hunt to find what I need.
At MINNA we believe in creating beautiful, ethically made products and using business to do good -- how do these concepts relate to your work or inspire you?
I feel the same way about what I create and how I do business. Some makers go in the direction of mass production to make as much product in as little time as possible by exploiting people and their labor. I’m committed to keeping my output at a mangable scale so that everything is handmade. I also believe that we have the ability to help people by offering our skills, spaces and financial support and I think the more of us who can do that the better the world will be.
When you’re not in the studio, how do you like to spend your time?
Gardening, parenting, supporting my partner in her art practice, playing with my cat, and watching music/sport documentaries and crypto AMAs.
What advice would you give someone looking to teach themselves a new craft or skill?
Look into local arts orgs that offer classes and if they are cost prohibitive ask about a work trade or scholarships (that’s what I did), go on youtube to learn new skills. If the cost of a tool is an obstacle perhaps a birthday fundraiser will help you purchase one critical tool. Find makers you love and see what you can do differently.
Where can we find your work?
Photography + Video by Autumn Jordan