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  • Basic Information

    Profile Info
    Artist Medium:Furniture
    Contact Info
    Studio Name:James Oleson Furnituremaker Street Address:1421 GRAY BLUFF TRAIL City:CHAPEL HILL State:NC Zip Code:27517 Phone:919-968-3659 Website:
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  • About / Bio

    *Current: Full time designer and maker of furniture

    *Retired from Duke University (2010) where he was a Professor of Radiation Oncology

    *Prior positions include: Chair of the Radiation Oncology Department, The University of Arizona; Faculty member, Harvard University; Chair of Radiation Oncology, Health Care International, Glasgow, Scotland

    *Research Physicist, Wesleyan University

    *Listed in "Best Physicians in America" and "Best Doctors in North Carolina" for many years.

    *Elected to Fellowship in the American College of Radiology and the American Society for Radiation Oncology

    *Elected to Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Omega Alpha, and Sigma Xi Honor Societies

    *Over 120 publications and book chapters; 2 patents

    * M..D., The University of Arizona

    *Ph.D., Physics, The Johns Hopkins University

    *B.A., Mathematics and Physics, St.Olaf College
    James Oleson has taken many art courses in drawing and oil painting through the years, and since 1980 he has focused on designing and making furniture as his art medium. He has made most of the furniture in his home.

    In recent years he attended workshops relating to furniture design and making with Rosanne Somerson (Anderson Ranch), Teri Masaschi (Center for Furniture Craftsmanship), Jeff Jewitt (Marc Adams School of Woodworking), Michael Fortune (Anderson Ranch), and Paul Schurch (Marc Adams School of Woodworking).

    An image of his mesquite buffet was published by Lark Press in "500 Cabinets". The cover of the January 2013 issue of "The International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics" features an image of one of his tables.

    Custom furniture design and making has been a very productive and full-time commitment since he retired as a Radiation Oncologist in 2010.



    My first furniture creations were plywood beds for my children, clearly utilitarian objects designed for specific functions. As I continued to design and make furniture my vision began to change and I saw the object as composed of related shapes, lines, and curves in three dimensions - a sculptural object that embodied aesthetic ideas.

    I imagine a shape, abstract or suggested by nature, and then make sketches with many variations in order to develop the design. After the basic design is established I go through a problem solving exercise involving selection of materials, defining structural and mechanical requirements, and satisfying functional needs. This problem solving process provides intellectual stimulation and great satisfaction.

    I prefer a spare and elegant aesthetic that incorporates relatively few decorative accents. I use woods that have intrinsic beauty of color and grain to reinforce the design concept. With each piece I enjoy exploring the use of a new material, technique, or design, and this has enabled me to continually develop and expand my skills.



    I make unique cheese boards and end grain cutting boards that are sold at the NC Crafts Gallery in Carrboro, NC; the Craft Gallery also carries selected furniture pieces.I am a member of the Frank Gallery in Chapel Hill and you will find representative furniture pieces there.



    With the exception of jewelry boxes and cutting boards which I produce on spec, I design and make furniture for clients on commission. The process begins with your contacting me to discuss the nature of the piece you wish to have designed. I will offer some intial design concepts and drawings and if you do decide to order a piece I will ask for a down payment to cover design and material costs. The final payment is due prior to delivery of the item.

    My website:

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