Advanced Woodworking Class “Sutton Bench” Project to be Unveiled May 5

Posted on 5/3/2016 3:52:37 PM

The “Sutton Bench,” a project by students in BA Harrington’s Advanced Woodworking class at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, will be revealed at a special reception on May 5, 2016, in the Blue Room of Sutton Hall.

Michael Bennett graduate art student with Sutton Bench

The Sutton Bench originated from an idea from Blane Dessy, a 1973 English graduate of IUP. Dessy, while not a fine arts graduate, became interested in the university’s “Harvest-to-Use” program in IUP’s Wood Center which uses trees that come down on campus for student woodworking projects. He contacted Harrington to see if she could incorporate creating a bench reflecting the architecture of Sutton Hall—“Italianate style”—into one of her classes.

Harrington, who is also codirector of the Wood Center, made the bench project a focus for her Advanced Woodworking class this spring.

Working in groups, students created six prototypes of benches. Dessy came to campus in April to choose the winning design. He selected the prototype by Mike Bennett, a first-year graduate student in the art program from Edwardsburg, Michigan. Another first-year graduate student, Brandon McDonald, from North Huntingdon, and graduating senior Taylor Gonzales of Indiana, joined Bennett to complete the bench, which includes laser engraved imagery of the IUP Oak Grove. In the future, a limited production of Sutton Benches will be built by students and made available for purchase as a fundraising project for the Wood Center.

BA Harrington and art students with Sutton BenchDessy provided funding for materials for the project, which includes wood from campus and from Indiana County, and has also donated funds for scholarships for the students on the winning design team.

"The Sutton Bench represents IUP to me,” Dessy said. “It is constructed of local lumber, designed and hand crafted by university students, and takes its form from John Sutton Hall, the first building on campus. It is a genuine example of IUP learning, craft, and inspiration that is embodied in a functional, but beautiful piece of furniture.

“I am happy to have been a part of this effort and I hope that this project extends the reputation and possibilities of the IUP Wood Center,” he said.

Dessy, who lives in Virginia, is the director of National Enterprises for the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

PHOTO 1: Michael Bennett, a graduate art student from Edwardsburg, Mich., with the Sutton Bench.

PHOTO 2: Standing far right, IUP faculty member and codirector of the Wood Center at IUP, BA Harrington with students, from left, Daniel Sarver, an art history major from Greensburg; Casey Layton, an art education major from Cheswick; Avery Wood, a communications media major from Johnstown; Brandon Aimino, a fine arts major from Indiana; and Kyle Richner, communications media major from Osceola Mills. The bench in the photo is designed by Riley Stensland, a studio art major from Williamsport.