Art Meets Politics in Vermont

Our fair state’s been making the news for all sorts of things in 2014. From five gold medals at Sochi for Vermont athletes to being named one of America’s 10 Happiest States to passing the nation’s first no-strings-attached GMO labeling bill. And recently, Vermont’s Governor Peter Shumlin also signed the Toxic Free Act, another ‘consumer right to know’ achievement.

The toxic chemicals bill mandates removal or labeling of dangerous chemicals in household products. Taylor Johnson, VPIRG’s Environmental Health Associate, commented that “everyone from kids to firefighters will be safer because of it,” and called it a huge win for public health in Vermont.

Shumlin signs toxics reform bill

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signs Toxics Reform Bill in Burlington. Photo Credit: Seventh Generation, BTV

As craftsmen living and working in the Green Mountains, this really hits home for us. We take great pride in making furniture pieces that are beautiful and sound, from natural, responsibly-sourced materials. We also appreciate Vermont’s drive to make consumer transactions more transparent. At the Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers, we share everything about the furniture making process with our clients, from the design process to the sourcing of materials to the condition and composition of finishes. You get the idea… So we were delighted to hear that when Gov. Shumlin signed S.239 into action, he did so atop a table handcrafted by one of us.

Shumlin signs toxics bill on David Hurwitz Table

Quietly participating, a handcrafted table by Guild Member David Hurwitz in collaboration with Slate Artist Kerry Furlani. Photo Courtesy Seventh Generation

The event took place at the LEED-certified corporate headquarters of Seventh Generation, a Vermont company that leads the nation in manufacturing non-toxic and bio-based household products. The Governor called the press to their Burlington waterfront location last month where he witnessed the bill.

Guild member David Hurwitz tells us that a few years ago, Seventh Generation commissioned several pieces from him, including one collaborative work between he and Vermont slate artist Kerry Furlani. Furlani and Hurwitz have worked together on many occasions.  Although their mediums are different, their approach and philosophies are very much about a sense of place, incorporating designs and materials from the local landscape. Hurwitz told us that the prerequisites for the corporate commission were that the wood be FSC-certified and harvested from within 500 miles of the office address. He and Kerry worked out more than one iteration of the table to get it just right, finally hand-fitting Furlani’s carving into the cherry top by chisel, a little bit at a time.

Hand Carved Table Accent, David Hurwitz Originals

Seventh Generation Leaf Sketch by Kerry Furlani

So Governor Shumlin set Vermont on a path to healthier communities; a great statement about the quality of life Vermonters want to have for themselves, for their children and for their children’s children. And as Dave told us, it was a great honor to have a piece of Vermont artisan furniture play a role in that occasion. “I’m still stunned that Shumlin signed the law on our piece! Especially since I’ve been a lifelong environmentalist!” he said.

LInden Leaf finished, Kerry Furlani

Congrats to Vermont for shaking things up, for taking care of her people. With hard work, dedication and a bit of broader perspective, we’re sharing in a pretty phenomenal story. Congrats to Kerry and Dave for a piece that exemplifies our mission at the Guild; making beautiful, valuable, functional and honest goods to improve the lives of our customers.

Sites to explore: Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers, Slate Artist Kerry Furlani, Seventh Generation



1 thought on “Art Meets Politics in Vermont

  1. Print Shop

    It’s great to hear stories where the men and woman in political office are actually fighting for their constituents. Hats off to you Governor Peter Shumlin, for doing what’s right and protecting your citizens from harmful chemicals.


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