David Ellsworth

born Iowa City, IA 1944
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Courtesy David Ellsworth.
Also known as
  • John David Ellsworth
Iowa City, Iowa, United States
Active in
  • Quakertown, Pennsylvania, United States

David Ellsworth received his MFA from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1973. Eight years earlier, he had studied architecture for a year at Washington University, St. Louis. His work is in the permanent collection of the American Craft Museum, the Philadelphia Art Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. His bowls have been featured at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Musée des Arts Decoratif in Paris. Ellsworth has lectured widely, and received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts. He is a lifetime member of the American Association of Woodturners.

White House Collection of American Crafts exhibition (Washington D.C.: National Museum of American Art, 1995)

Luce Artist Biography

David Ellsworth learned to turn wood in an industrial arts class in eighth grade. He studied architecture and sculpture at college, then opened a studio in the mountains of Colorado. He made simple salt and pepper shakers to sell while developing his skills and could finish a set in just two hours. Ellsworth enjoys working with burls, which are clusters of knots forming an intricate grain, and he will leave the wood outside to be broken down by fungi into interesting shapes and patterns before it is turned.


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A Revolution in Wood: The Bresler Collection
September 23, 2010January 30, 2011
A Revolution in Wood: The Bresler Collection celebrates the magnificent gift of sixty-six pieces of turned and carved wood to the Smithsonian American Art Museum by the noted collectors, Fleur and Charles Bresler.
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Connections: Contemporary Craft at the Renwick Gallery
November 13, 2015March 6, 2022
Connections is the Renwick Gallery’s dynamic ongoing permanent collection presentation, featuring more than 80 objects celebrating craft as a discipline and an approach to living differently in the modern world.

Related Books

A Revolution in Wood: The Bresler Collection
A Revolution in Wood celebrates the gift of sixty-six pieces of turned and carved wood to the Renwick Gallery by the distinguished collectors Fleur and Charles Bresler. Illustrated in lavish detail, works by this country’s best-known wood artists highlight the growing sophistication of American craft’s youngest medium. The collection includes masterpieces by the field’s pioneers—David Ellsworth, William Hunter, Mark and Melvin Lindquist, and several others—as well as compelling recent works created with new techniques.