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On Display August 2023: Woodworking by Joao Martins


On Display August 2023: Woodworking by Joao Martins

on display

Creating New Meanings and New Forms: Woodworking by Joao Martins

This August, the Livingston Public Library is showcasing the masterful wood carvings of Livingston resident Joao Martins. 

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The exhibited wood sculptures depict two of his favorite themes–hands and books, and also landscapes and faces.

Martins says hands can reveal personality, weakness and pride, and similar to books on paper, wood’s natural colors and grain can help you read stories, and bring you memories and words.

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Born and raised in Manteigas, mainland Portugal, the poet and sculptor João Martins earned a degree in Theology at the Catholic University of Lisbon where he dedicated himself to teaching and education. His father was an artist, and Martins was raised to value both the written word and visual arts. 

In 1987, he arrived in the United States for a month-long visit, and he ended up relocating to New Jersey with his family.  A Jury Casa de Cortes – Leiria prize winner, Martin’s literary influences include Ruy Belo, Pablo Neruda, José Luis Peixoto, Ted Koser, and Carlos Drumond Andrade. He has published nine books of poetry and short stories as well. A member of the Portuguese Writers Society and founder of ProVerbo – the cultural arm of the Portuguese Sport Club of Newark, NJ – Martins organizes cultural galas, literary events, and other club activities. 

Artist’s Statement

My father was a carpenter and he started doing “sculptures,” small animals and anthropomorphic figures with tree routes, later relief, and other figures. I grew up between tools and wood. My father gave me several pieces of his carvings. I started collecting, until I said to myself: “It is time to try it…”. That is when I found American Woodcarving and Art School! And started doing my own pieces 15 years ago. And I love it!

Every Saturday morning, religiously, I still drive to American Woodcarving and Art School in Wayne, New Jersey.

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Here I am exhibiting pieces of my passion: wooden hands, faces, landscaping and books! For me, hands symbolize the power of communication and giving! Landscaping with trees are the fields where the wood comes from and allows me to play with and enjoy! Books are my other great passion. Read, write, communicate, waiting the reader be able to find his own meaning!

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In the display we have: my mother’s hands doing lace, my father’s hands talking to me, my hand, writing… My grandparents’ “portrait”, several different faces (“masks”, as Hemingway used to say…) and… Books, books, all different kinds of books…

As a boy, I read everything that came my way: history, stories for young kids, all the books that I was able to bring home from the mobile library, a max of six, I think, that I would read under the blanket at night with a flashlight to not disturb my parents and siblings. I was anxious to learn everything–literally–reading sports papers, religious books, stories, books from the library.

We are at the LIBRARY… LET’S READ!


These stunning and unique creations in wood can be enjoyed during Library hours in August.

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