Rude Osolnik

born Dawson, NM 1915-died Berea, KY 2001
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Dawson, New Mexico, United States
Berea, Kentucky, United States

Considered to be one of the fathers of contemporary wood turning in America, Rude Osolnik is something of a folk hero. Working in Kentucky, he creates robust forms from a variety of woods. Osolnik is noted for his ability to use figures in the wood he laminates, creating a signature look that emerges only as the work is turned.

Kenneth Trapp The Renwick at Twenty-Five (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art, 1997)

Luce Artist Biography

Rude Osolnik moved to Kentucky in 1937 to run an industrial arts program at Berea College. For more than forty years he began work at two in the morning so that he could spend four hours at the lathe before a day of teaching. Osolnik often gave small turned objects to family and friends, and his unique candlesticks, weed pots, and natural edge bowls quickly became recognized and sought after. He used simple proportions and clean lines to achieve what he described as a “perfect balance between material, purpose, and contour.”


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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.