Michelle Holzapfel
Wood Carver
Marlboro, VT
2019 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by the Barr Foundation.

Michelle Holzapfel was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island on December 9, 1951. Her parents and grandparents were workers in this small industrial New England city. Her family moved to a rural area of northern Rhode Island in 1949, where she grew up immersed in a natural setting. From an early age, she plied crayons, paper and glue, and took every opportunity to draw and construct. Fostered by a generous teacher and mentor, Holzapfel began intensive independent study in art history and media in middle and high school. She began carving to make woodblock prints and discovered a love of the material and methods, as well as a source of income by making custom signs.

Since 1972, Holzapfel and her partner David have shared a home, raised two sons, and grown their woodworking careers in Marlboro, Vermont, where she attended college and decided to stay. Her professional practice of turning and carving wood forms began in 1976. Holzapfel has developed her skills, fluency of invention, and clarity of intention through rigorous practice. She has fabricated a seamless life in craft over four decades of participation in solo and group shows; collaborations with colleagues, collectors, and curators; and the exploration of teaching, writing, and research.

Holzapfel’s life as a maker has always been firmly grafted to a life of commerce: her work has been sold from her studio, at national craft shows, and through galleries in major urban centers. Many pieces reside in private and public collections nationwide.

Portrait photo by David Holzapfel.
  • Pomona's Spoon, 2009. Wood, surfaces textured with pyrography and scorching, 4 x 13 x 22 inches. Photo by David Holzapfel.
  • Rage Correctly, 2009. Wood carved from a single piece of basswood; surfaces bleached, pyrographed, gilded, 14 x 25 x 2 inches. Photo by David Holzapfel.
  • Three Wishes Vase, 1999. Turned and carved red maple burl with articulated spoon form, ring-pierced lip, 10 x 10 x 3 inches.
  • Duet Vase, 2001. Two linked vessels carved from a single cherry burl, 12 x 12 x 6 inches. Photo by David Holzapfel.
  • Liar's Vase, 1999. 3- axis turned Red Maple Burl Vase carved with Mermaid and Liar with Tongue biting Nose, found brass chain 'reins', 10 x 10 x 6 inches. Photo by David Holzapfel.