The Painting Crew
is President of Handshouse Studio, Inc., and, since 1983, professor of sculpture at Massachusetts College of Art. He received a Master of Architecture in 1987 from Harvard University Graduate School of Design, a Master of Fine Arts from Washington University School of Fine Arts, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Georgia. He is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including the Massachusetts Artists Foundation Finalists Grant for Sculpture, Massachusetts Artists Foundation Finalists Grant for Environmental Design, the National Endowment for the Arts Funding for Sculpture Installation (Decordova Museum Lincoln, Mass.), a Ford Foundation Grant, and the Goldsmith Award, Brooks Memorial Art Gallery, Memphis, Tenn. His professional activities generally involve doing, then teaching and lecturing about what he has learned. For example, after participating in the research of ancient Egyptian methods for raising an obelisk along with his partner, Laura, they both developed the design of scale models and a plan for a team of volunteers to successfully raise a huge granite obelisk in Chelmsford, Mass. This successful project was made into a PBS documentary. He and Laura lectured and toured the country demonstrating those models at the Boston Museum of Science, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, the University of Puget Sound, and Oberlin College.
is Rick Brown’s partner in every sense of that word, as well as an educator, sculptor, artist, & builder in her own right. With degrees in Fine Arts from the Massachusetts College of Art & the University of Massachusetts, Laura was a member of the 3D Department at Mass Art from 1996 to 2002. During that time, she served as Curator for an outdoor sculpture exhibition for the City of Boston’s ParkARTS program located in twelve parks throughout the city and the Boston Common for First Night 2000. She has traveled & lectured extensively on her wide variety of interests. Among her skills are exhibition design & installation, architectural design & building, woodworking, foundry, welding, earth technology, concrete, paper making & photography.
I grew up on the north shore of Massachusetts in Byfield. This past spring I graduated from Massachusetts College of Art and Design with a focus in sculpture. It was at Mass Art that I met Rick and Laura Brown and got involved with Handshouse studios. With Handshouse I’ve worked on the reconstruction of a traditional polish bell tower, the building of the Gwozdziec Roof structure and painting the Gwozdziec ceiling. I am a woodworker, ceramicist and a painter.
I’m a 2008 MassArt Alum from the Sculpture department originally from Dartmouth, Massachusetts and I’ve been involved in this project for 5 years. I was first introduced to this project through the Bimah reconstruction class during my sophomore year. I then took part in the painting classes and other reconstruction projects throughout the rest of my undergraduate education and continued after my graduation as a teaching assistant for one of the final painting classes. I was also fortunate enough to travel to Poland with Rick, Laura, and a group of fellow students during the summer of 2007 to help research wooden architecture and wall paintings of the same time period as the Gwozdziec Synagogue, as well as help out at a timber framing site in the Czech Republic. Last summer I had the chance to not only be a leader on the painting team but was also able to participate in the last session of the timber framing portion in Sanok, Poland earlier in the summer. This summer I am back as a painting leader and extremely excited to see all we will accomplish. When I’m not making history here in Poland you can find me in the mountains of northern New Hampshire working as a snowboard instructor.
Through HandsHouse Studio I’ve helped build a verity of historical wooden objects. Many of those are through the synagogue projects I started working on 8 years ago. I’ve helped recreate a life-size replica of the Gwozdziec bimah, a 5 foot model of the Zabludow Synagogue, and I worked as a teaching assistant for the ceiling painting class. I’ve also traveled to Poland to research and document sacred wooden structures from the 17th century. In school my concentration was figurative sculpture in both my MFA from The University of Washington and my BFA from Massachusetts College of Art & Design. In my day to day life I am a full time toy sculptor. I create the original prototypes for children’s action figures. I also have 1 dog, 2 cats and 5 fish.
Case Randall graduated from MassArt’s sculpture department in 2006. She became involved with the Gwozdziec Synagogue project six years ago as part of the first Lost Historic Wall Painting class. She later co-taught a winter session course at Oberlin College on the subject. Case currently is employed as a conservation technician with a focus in bronze sculpture, and as a jeweler. She maintains a sculpture studio in Somerville, MA.
ArielRosenblum is an artist and educator currently residing in Northampton, Massachusetts. She first became involved with the Gwozdziec Synagogue Replication Project in 2007 as a student at Massachusetts College of Art, where she received her BFA. In 2009 she traveled to Poland to study polychrome paintings in wooden churches with Rick and Laura Brown. Throughout her involvement in the replication project, Ariel has been most interested in studying the Hebrew Calligraphy within the ceiling painting.
Jean Whelan comes to the Gwozdziec Synagogue from a history of participation in Handshouse Studio restoration projects such as a medieval bell tower and the the bimah and door for the synagogue. Her first contact with Rick & Laura was at Urhart Castle in Scotland, participating in the construction of two medieval trebuchets. The Handshouse philosophy of looking at the world from many angles coupled with “build it and you will learn” dovetails perfectly with Jean’s life view. Jean’s wide-ranging interests have led her to a career in the arts and crafts that has included oil painting, wood-carving, woodworking and stained glass work. She has also worked as a weaver and restoration book binder. After additional technical education, she added architectural design to her resume. Her drawing projects have included designing homes and studios and producing technical drawings for items as diverse as water-powered sawmills and patterns for machinery castings. Her ongoing work with Arm of the Sea Puppet Theater, which produces environmentally themed plays, has involved creating large scale papier-mache props and costumes. Jean Whelan is a graduate of the studio arts program at SUNY Potsdam. She spent a year studying figure drawing in France. She also studied oil painting during a semester in New York City at the Empire State College Independent Studies Program.
I graduated from MassArt with a major in sculpture in 2011. I first became involved with the Browns in 2007, when I traveled with them to Poland to document wooden churches and wall paintings from the 17th century, and to help out with some timber framing at the Czech Republic. I chose that travel course because it was the only one offered that was hands-on, and ever since then I’ve been hooked… (or sucked in). Rick Brown is even solely responsible for convincing me to change my major from Illustration to Sculpture. The following year I took the Historic Wall Painting class. I’ve worked as a teachers assistant at Oberlin College’s winter session in 2008, and at the University of Georgia in 2011. I’ve also participated in many Handshouse workshops, including the wooden bell tower reconstruction and the timber framing of the Gwozdiec roof structure. I’ve recently relocated to Philadelphia, where I’ve successfully maintained my unemployment since last summer. I just completed the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program’s training class, and I hope to pursue that once I return to my homeland.
Savana Vagueiro da Fonseca
Savana Vagueiro da Fonseca is a multimedia artist and documentary film producer currently residing in San Francisco, CA. Originally from Brazil, she has lived in the United States for many years and graduated with an BFA in Film and Video from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2009. As an undergraduate student, Savana was first introduced to the Gwozdziec Synagogue Replication Project in 2008 as a student in Rick and Laura Brown’s Lost Historic Wall Painting class. In 2011, Savana traveled to Poland to as a student painter on the mural replication project. This summer, Savana will join the painting team as their newest member.
Nick Farnham is a sculptor, designer and youth mentor currently residing in Boston Massachusetts. Nick first became involved in the Gwozdziec Synagogue Replication Project through Handshouse classes as an undergraduate at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. He later visited Poland in 2007 with Handshouse Studios to document historic wooden architecture and work with traditional builders on the renovation of a castle. He returned in 2011 to help with the timber framing of the roof structure and as a painting leader. When not in Poland Nick is the project coordinator of the three dimensional design studio at Artists for Humanity; a non-profit in Boston whose mission is to provide under resourced youth with the keys to self-sufficiency through paid employment in the arts.
Fresh to the team this summer, I am joining the group in the role of project coordinator. After graduating three years ago from Scripps College with a dual major in English Literature and Gender Studies, I moved between upstate New York, Spain, where I taught English, and Peru, where I volunteered for a non-profit after-school program in the Andean mountains. Currently, I reside on Long Island, NY where I am a post-bacc premed student at Stony Brook University. My involvement with Handshouse studio spans years and is a result of my parents’ participation in many of the projects, dating back to the Obelisk raising in 1999. I am very excited to be spending the summer in Poland and to be a part of this incredible reconstruction.