Nut Case

Copied Katie Hudnall, Nut Case, 2019, reclaimed wood, found hardware and fasteners, industrial felt, 178 acorns, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Kenneth R. Trapp Acquisition Fund, 2021.21, © 2019, Catherine Hudnall

Artwork Details

Nut Case
Not on view
© 2019, Catherine Hudnall
Credit Line
Museum purchase through the Kenneth R. Trapp Acquisition Fund
Mediums Description
reclaimed wood, found hardware and fasteners, industrial felt, 178 acorns
  • Object — furniture
Object Number

Artwork Description

In 2017, Katie Hudnall began to fill her home with acorns collected on long walks. Dealing with difficult life circumstances, Hudnall found, “The walks became a way to find myself back to my mind and body again and to be really present.” Hudnall created a special shelter for the acorns: a curvilinear suitcase featuring a square—a home—for each one.

The 178 acorns trace the ongoing journey of the artist. A mature oak tree produces about two thousand acorns a year, but only one in ten thousand acorns reaches maturity. Hudnall explains, “I think the idea of constant, repeated, tiny attempts for success, with the understanding that most will go nowhere, became a way for me to think about slow progress toward health in my own life.” Hudnall renders a playful case of acorns into a powerful call to action: slow down and linger, seek alternative paths, and accept failures.

This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World, 2022

Verbal Description

A portable wooden sculpture made up of a tall structure that supports a flat case with its lid propped open, revealing many acorns placed inside. When the petite case is closed, the sculpture stands a little under three and a half feet tall, two and a half feet long, and a little over one foot deep. The case’s irregular geometric shape mimics the top of a grand piano. Its top is made of wide, light brown wooden slats, which are stabilized with thinner, darker brown pieces affixed to the outer surface. The scaffold-like structure underneath is also made from a darker wood.

A multitude of dividers, made up of small squares, sits within the case. Each light-colored square contains an acorn or two resting on a layer of felt. It contains 178 acorns in all. Set within the right bottom corner of the lid is a small porthole, through which a few acorns peek through when the case is closed.



Quilt featuring the portrait of a woman
This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World
May 13, 2022April 2, 2023
This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World showcases the dynamic landscape of American craft today.