Bent Bench

Mitch Ryerson
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Black locust, stainless steel, cast stone

Mitch Ryerson is an artist, designer, and craftsperson specializing in wood structures and furniture. The Bent Bench is one of many “S-curve” benches Ryerson has made. It was not specifically designed to reflect the architecture of the Museum, although that is a serendipitous relationship!
The artist says, “The Bent Bench is intended to provide comfortable seating in an outdoor setting. The goal is to create an organic form that offers opportunities for fluid interactions between the people using the bench and the environment around them. The natural curve of the black locust timber of the back is a gestural response to the weight of the curving piece of cast stone that supports it.”

Ryerson began his career building wooden boats in Maine. He then attended Boston University’s Program in Artisanry, receiving his BAA in Furniture Design in 1982. His work for the last twelve years has focused on children’s playgrounds.

Ryerson has exhibited extensively and his work is in numerous private and public collections including the Fuller Craft Museum, the Mint Museum, the Boston Public Library, and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. Ryerson is also a teacher. He has served as an instructor at the Haystack Mountain School, the Penland School of Crafts, and Peter’s Valley Craft Center, and is an adjunct professor of furniture design at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

“Please Approach the Bench” Exhibit

When renovations to the museum and its grounds were planned in 2020, it was decided by the designers and museum staff to include artist-made benches in the newly landscaped, “Woodland Path” sculpture garden. A call to artists was sent out and 25 artists from all six New England states sent proposals for outdoor seating. Curatorial staff and director Charles Weyerhaeuser voted on their favorites, and five benches were chosen. The artists each received a stipend to design, build, and loan their bench for a three-year period, after which the artist can offer them to the museum or take them back. Mitch Ryerson’s bench was one of the five chosen.

Mitch Ryerson has shown his work at the Art Complex Museum a number of times and two of his pieces are in the permanent collection.