Born in Altadena, California, John Cederquist earned a B.A. degree in art in 1969 and an M.A. in crafts in 1971 at California State University at Long Beach. Since 1976, he has taught two- and three-dimensional design at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California.
Cederquist's involvement with the contemporary woodworking movement was largely influenced by Wendell Castle. Cederquist's early work adhered to the prevailing aesthetic of sculptural anthropomorphic forms that emphasized the qualities of wood. Fascinated by perspective and the illusion of depth and space that can be suggested on a two-dimenional plane, he began to explore imagery within the context of traditional furntiure forms, creating trompe-l'oeil illusions of ambiguity and disquieting presence. Cederquist draws his imagery from numerous graphic sources, including Japanese woodblock prints, comic strips, television, and advertising. In the mid-to late 1980s he began to use the image of classic American high chests in conjunction with shipping crates to create elaborate fractured images that bring to mind cubism.
Kenneth R. Trapp and Howard Risatti Skilled Work: American Craft in the Renwick Gallery (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998)
Artist quoted in The Museum of California Bulletin, 1997John Cederquist’s work draws on California surfing culture, trompe l’oeil (fool the eye) painting, and classical Japanese arts and crafts. The artist is not interested in creating “important furniture,” but in exploring how appearances shape our perception. Cederquist prefers plywood and industrial resins to precious woods and pigments, creating large-scale pieces that ask us not to take the art, or ourselves, too seriously.