Abner Collection: Challenge is to keep reaching to do your best

Abner Collection: Challenge is to keep reaching to do your best

The Met Henry Abner Collection Pirouette Console Table is a favorite of Ernie Hershberger, who said the faith concept behind the piece was capturing the daily ebbs and flows of routine life and how people should embrace life and try their best in everything they do.


When asked to create a series of furniture pieces to bring out each quality in a renowned painting for The Metropolitan Art Museum in New York, Ernie Hershberger and his team took on a monumental task. In accepting the challenge of tying together the beauty of the artist’s vision and the grace of each piece of furniture, Hershberger and his team insisted each piece be steeped in the Anabaptist faith.

Over the next weeks, there will be an in-depth look inside each piece of art and furniture that make up the seven-piece set series, “The Met Collection,” by Abner Henry to see exactly how they drew inspiration from art and held true to faith in their work.

Degas’ “The Dance”
Accompanying furniture: Pirouette Console Table

Edgar Degas is considered one of the most influential and beloved Impressionist painters. He was so accomplished at his craft that The Met has three galleries devoted to his art.

In the late 19th century, attending the opera or ballet was among the most fashionable activities and provided a vibrant social scene.

The ballet provided inspiration for Degas, both as a member of fashionable society and as an artist. He is known to have created dozens of paintings and even more drawings depicting both dancers and attendees at the ballet and opera.

However, “The Dance” is considered his most ambitious effort, mainly because of the complexity of the composition that shows various figures in motion and the mirror reflection that gives the viewer an expanded view into the rehearsal room, as well as the artist’s choice to feature 24 women — the most figures shown in any of his paintings — all of whom would have posed for Degas in his studio.

For Hershberger, drawing on that inspiration proved to be as inspiring to him and his staff as it was for Degas. Thus it was no surprise the Pirouette Console Table became a favorite.

“It was a very difficult challenge to create,” Hershberger said. “There are so many similarities between it and the painting — the dresses that are moving, the pieces of wood that have the ebb and flow, and the two-tone colors built into make the shadow effect. There’s metal wrapped around and walnut on the inside that grounds the piece, and the glass on top is in the shape of a ballerina shoe.”

Hershberger said spiritually the piece expressed the human side of planning out every day, only to see those plans shift and evolve.

“Each day of your life ebbs and flows with highlights and low points,” Hershberger said. “The ruffles represent how a day goes — minute by minute, hour by hour. As the day progresses, minutes and hours blend. The glass top represents reaching forward to tomorrow and the next goal or step in life. It’s about embracing life, give it our all and being a great steward.”

He said people could choose to fight that change, to blame others or make excuses, but in order to thrive, people need to be grounded, which is the meaning behind the metal bar at the base.

“It gives us the weight and strength we need,” Hershberger said.

The brass portion is the spirit of people, a spirit that shines through and will always be there.

But he said the ebb and flow of the piece represents the real meaning to him, noting each of the pieces that make up the table flow in different form, each its own individual piece, each adding to the overall life that the table takes on.

He said the glass represents the reach of the ballerina, who is the focal point on the painting.

He said people can freeze up in their daily routine when changes come and blame others or complain, or they can choose to adapt and move forward, putting the best effort possible to every moment.

“If I was to put any piece in my office, this one would be it,” Hershberger said. “It’s a stewardship symbol. The glass is us, reaching for the stars. I don’t like goals because we set goals and reach them, yet we never know what we could have or should have been if we had only given everything we had. Live each day as if tomorrow would never come. We have today to do the best we can and to give it our all. That’s the reach. Deal with it. Deal with it and keep reaching.”

Loading next article...

End of content

No more pages to load