Volcano Art Center Featured Artists

Craig, Jess Masao

Growing up in Northern California, Jess fell in love with Hawaii and island life over 30 years ago, returning as often as possible until moving to the Big Island permanently with his wife and two daughters in 2009. His wife and one of his daughters have since taken up woodturning, making the business quite a family affair.
Jess Craig spent many of his earlier years collecting life’s imagery and experiences through adventure and travel both domestically and abroad. Whether it was backpacking through Europe or the high Sierra mountains, skydiving, scuba diving, playing bass guitar in a rock band, or working with pure bread Arabian horses, his penchant for adventure is brought forth in his work. “Diversity is what makes the world such a beautiful place. It is the quintessential “Spice of life.” If you love diversity and adventure, there’s nothing like wood to get your heart racing”. Jess’ choice of wood as a medium for his artistic expression mirrors his love of nature’s unmatched beauty and seemingly endless diversity. “As a wood lathe artist, one of the greatest joys I receive is to successfully reveal and accentuate the natural beauty hidden within each piece of wood. I find the process of creating a beautiful art piece from a humble rotting log to be both intellectually challenging and, spiritually centering”. Jess’s creative process stems from a blend of his formal training in “high-tech” mechanical engineering design, and his fascination with artistic asymmetrical balance fostered in him by his mother. With 30 years under his belt as a mechanical designer, Jess invokes a process of analyzing and visualizing the highest potential that each piece of wood has to offer before turning it.
“I love creating alt bowls that are full of unusual characteristics. Every time I tum a piece of wood, I feel as though the wood has taken me on a journey. I love the knotty, rotten, spalted, crazy, edgy features which allow my creative juices to flow. Rather than allow a felled tree to lie decomposing on the ground, I strive to give them a renewed life as a beautiful object that can be enjoyed for decades. That process is very rewarding.”