Opposite But Not Equal
1991–92
various hardwoods, veneers, and marquetry
27 x 22 x 28.5 in.; 25 x 25 x 28.5 in.
Private Collection




Right: Stradivarius cello
Above: Concept sketch (click image to enlarge)




“Up there, you go around the earth every hour and a half, time after time after time. You wake up usually over the Middle East, and as you eat breakfast you look out the window and there’s the Mediterranean area, and Greece, and Italy, and North Africa, and the Sinai. … You look down there and you realize that as you are waking up, there are hundreds of people killing each other over some imaginary lines that you can’t even see.”

[NASA astronaut Rusty Schweikart, speaking about his experiences orbiting the earth on Apollo 9 in March 1969]

This piece explores the power of lines. Consider the following exercise. Take a piece of paper and draw a single line down the center of the page. In an instant, you have created two sides. These sides may appear to be the same, but they are, by definition, opposed: a left side and a right side; a foreground and a background; the positive and the negative; right and wrong; good and evil. With a simple move, you have produced difference, division, and judgement.

Using the shape of a Stradivarius cello, I drew a line along a piece of wood to create two opposing forms, each of which generated the patterns for one of the pair of side tables. While the two tables are opposite they are not equal. Common elements exist and are shared, for example, both tables share the same leg design, based on the form of a cello bow. However, each table is also unique, reflecting a different perspective and a distinctive orientation, as shown in the different shell marquetry patterns on the table tops.

We have become a planet filled with lines, lines that have become essential to our existence. We are so dependent on these lines we cannot imagine a world without them. We use lines to create countries, towns, time zones, production lines and deadlines. We live and die by these lines, and yet none of these lines exist except in our imaginations and through our actions. That is the power of lines.

As we continue to use lines to divide ourselves into parts, we lose a sense of the whole. We tend to forget that even as lines divide, they also connect. While we so readily express our differences, let us also acknowledge our common humanity.

Download the Opposite But Not Equal brochure .pdf (4.5 MB)