Seating Assignment: Sawtooth’s Exhibition Highlights Women Furniture Makers From Around the Country

A new exhibition at Sawtooth School for Visual Art, presented with Salem College, champions women artists and furniture-makers working today while also making history in the process.

Seating Assignment: Women in Contemporary Chairmaking and Craft Education, the first survey exhibition of its kind, features 14 chairs designed and fabricated by 15 women from all over the country. The chairs on display are diverse, ranging from the fantastical to the scientific, and all represent a high level of skill and creativity.

Annie Evelyn’s Red Diamonds has a majestic presence, resembling a throne with an upholstered scarlet train trailing behind it, while Stacy Motte and Eleanor Ingrid Rose’s Spread evokes transition – their piece depicts a chair, side table and decorative dishware seemingly breaking apart and blending into each other.

Sophie Glenn’s ladderback chair looks like a typical one you’d see in farmhouses and antique stores all around the Triad…but step closer, and you’ll find it’s made entirely of metal. 

Aspen Golann’s Ladies’ Armchair (Portrait of the Artist as a Chair) uses traditional woodworking methods to create a contemporary piece, ornate and bubblegum pink, that both critiques and celebrates the history of American decorative arts.

When Rebecca Juliette-Duex, the exhibition’s curator and Sawtooth’s 2023 Gondring Resident in Woodworking, visited Salem College’s Sutton Initiative for Design Education (SIDE) Chair Library, she was amazed by the regional treasure’s collection. 

The SIDE Chair Library is home to a handpicked selection of nearly 50 chairs considered historically significant in design and still in production. Salem students and community members can not only visit the library, but they are also encouraged to interact with the chairs – to sit in them, turn them upside down, measure them and ponder their construction and materials.

Juliette-Duex noticed the primary users of this library are also the least represented by gender and diversity in the collection. To promote inclusivity, she began working on a presentation showcasing the many women furniture makers who reconfigure classic shapes to speak about their own experience in a field where they have been historically excluded, along with those in the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities. 

Working alongside Dr. Rosa Otero, Associate Professor of Design at Salem College and curator of the SIDE Chair Library; Josie Vogel, Sawtooth’s Director of Wood Programs; and Rebecca Silberman, Sawtooth’s Director of Operations + Registration, Juliette-Duex and the team transformed a one-off lecture into a landmark gallery show open for the community to see.

“The hope is that this exhibition will not only shine light on the work that is being done today and project it into the future, but will also reflect that light back in time to the women who were there all along and whose contributions have been forgotten, intentionally or otherwise,” said Juliette-Duex.

Seating Assignment features Katie Bister, Christina Boy, Annie Evelyn, Sophie Glenn, Aspen Golann, Elsa Hoffman, Joyce Lin, Laura Mays, Stacy Motte + Eleanor Ingrid Rose, Sabiha Mujtaba, Ellie Richards, Janine Wang, Kimberly Winkle and Salem College students.

The exhibition is on view in Sawtooth’s Eleanor and Egbert Davis Gallery during its regular opening hours: Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., and Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Make sure to stop by before this incredible celebration of women artists closes on Saturday, May 11th!

Sawtooth School for Visual Art is located at 251 North Spruce Street in downtown Winston-Salem. For more information about the exhibition and associated programming, call Sawtooth at 336.723.7395 or visit


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