From “Paul Reiber: The Art & Spirit of a Chairmaker,” an article by Tom McFadden in Woodworker Magazine
“The interest that I have in woodworking is image-oriented rather than process-oriented. What interest me is creating objects that have an emotional and spiritual content while working within the traditional craft concerns of function and beauty. People don’t buy my chairs because they need a chair; they buy my chairs because they need something else.
These are the words of Paul Reiber, an artist living near Mendocino California,. who draws on a background in mythology and comparative religion for inspiration for the designs he carves into his work. He is a tall man with bushy brown hair who speaks passionately about his work and his reasons for doing it. His words reveal a person rooted in spirituality and concerned about humans and the human condition, and courageous enough to follow his own vision and allow his work to evolve accordingly.
Although Paul has no formal art training beyond an art class in high school, he traces his interest clear back to his childhood. “I was always art-orineted. I have drawn all my life.” Extensive travels in Europe as a teenager allowed him to experience the art museums and galleries from another part of the world. He studied Greek in college, and in 1970 obtained his BA in Classical Studies from Boston University. He then prepared for the ministry, attending a Unitarian school, the Star King School for Religious Leadership. That was where he began woodcarving seriously. “I took a class on totems. It was taught by a Jesuit—a European-trained wood carver—who did sculpture in the round.” The totems that they carved there were “essentially religious objects.” It was this experience more than any other which turned his life in the direction of sculpture in wood….