Functional, crafted beauty - Shelbi Malonson

Oftentimes, art is mistaken as something solely, and merely, ornamental. With this gallery, I'd like to bring some attention to works that have a bit more to offer. These pieces were made purposely; some tell stories, some protect goods and valuables, some are to be worn, and some stand in to create personalized signatures. Though vastly different from one another, the pieces are unified by their unique use of color, and many are influenced by Earth's nature, and the beauty that can be crafted from it. 

Early pins, brooches, and jewelry had a much more functional purpose than simply pure decoration, different from their use today. This piece is an example of early gold smithing, created as a decorative ornament that would also hold a cloak or a kind of cape onto the person him or herself. In addition to serving as a status symbol, these pieces helped artists explore the possibilities of the materials they worked with, pushing the limits and creating more intricate detail. Gemstones are set into the gold, creating bright effects and adding to the decorative pattern. It is a great fit in this gallery because of not only its craftsmanship, but also it's use of materials (gold and gemstones being pulled from the earth embodies some of this natural inspiration as well).
This bronze vessel, entitles "Warrior Grave" was created to house weapons, wine ladles, and drinking horns belonging to the man it was buried beside. During the Roman era (much like other time periods as well) being buried alongside grave goods was a common practice, and the items were said to assist the person they belonged to after death. The cooking kettle also shows the status of the man, likely an officer of some kind. This piece was created both as decoration and with a functional purpose in mind. Over time, the bronze has aged and created a beautiful green color, and it's purpose (to eventually be buried back in the soil from which the metal came) speaks to earthly inspiration as well.
This piece, a combination of cut paper and silk created by Tim Budden, shows a collage-like visual style that is composed of individually cut butterfly shapes. A large range of vibrant hues is included, to the point where nearly every shade from the color wheel is utilized. Though not created as a functional piece, it shows the beauty found in intricate detail, particularly that sort of detail that appears in the natural world. It is apparent that the artist has taken inspiration from the idea of inspiration itself, as his piece is bursting with life and has, in my opinion, a dreamlike quality.
This evening gown drew me in almost purely for its uniqueness; not often is a piece of clothing deemed important enough to be represented in a public gallery (much less a formal woman's gown). Being that it was designed to be wore, this embodies the idea of functional, usable artwork. Despite including being less colorful than some other pieces, the black tule and gold embellishments provide a nice contrast and varying texture. Also, inspiration from the natural world is seen once again, taking for the form of the gold grape motif. These shapes have been applied to the skirt and bodice of the gown.
This vibrant orange creation was intended as a stamp, something to be dipped in ink and used to mark artworks and/or important documents. These stamps distinguish a person's property or work as uniquely their own. Not only is the piece functionally beautiful (composed of colors ranging from deep reds to fiery, sunset oranges to golden yellows), but the fine details carved into the stamp include organic, natural forms such as flowers.
In his photo, a young boy looks up at and holds a large bouquet of crafted paper flowers. Despite being a photograph, it still has functionality in regards to storytelling. Not only are the intricate paper flowers a nice tip of the hat to natural images and inspiration, they likely have a functionality of their own, perhaps being used to decorate for a festival or show resect for an event or particular day. The boy, who may have created the flowers, inspects them with a pensive look. There is clearly a story behind the image. Despite lacking physical color, I think the photo gushes with colorful inner meaning, and is a beautiful aesthetic regardless. Plus, what the image lacks in color, it makes up for in contrast, grit, texture, and composition.
Pictured here is a golden pendant that was likely crafted mid 16th century. It features an animal motif, with the main focal point being a very colorful parrot. At a glance, the small animals speak to the natural, earthly inspiration followed by this gallery, and the rich greens, reds, and golds (earth tones, more or less) contribute to this as well. Looking deeper, the bird, as well as the smaller white rabbit and snail, are symbols representative of Mary. Thus, the pendant has slight religious symbolism as well. In terms of functionality, this piece of jewelry likely had more to do with being a purely decorative ornament, but the craft still serves to display the owner's beliefs and values. I feel this piece should be included mainly for the quality and intricacy of its craftsmanship.
Crafted by Carl Barbé, this small jewelry box is made from gold and inlaid with countless small pieces of rounded, polished turquoise. A sightly larger tucks stone serves as the thumb piece (used to open the box lid). This piece, an artwork on its own, would likely be used for housing jewelry or other small valuables. Functional and beautiful, the box's interesting texture and ocean-reminiscent coloring create an eye-catching effect. The box was likely commissioned by a wealthy patron. It's simplistic design and the selected gemstones touch on natural beauty.
This centerpiece, crafted as a part of a large tableware set for a Spanish nobleman, features debate silver features and portrays Venus and Neptune (taking from the Roman motif). Though in truth, tableware sets are predominantly used for decoration, the piece still has, more or less, a function as a silverware piece. Crafted from silver, it has less color to speak of, but its detailed figures are not lacking either way. Relating to the parrot pin referenced earlier in the gallery, this has a somewhat godly/spiritual theme. Neptune, God of the sea, hints at earthly inspiration and relatedness also.
Since medieval times, stained glass windows have been used as a nonverbal, visual method for preserving and communicating stories. Depicted here is a fish swimming just beneath some shallow waves, shadowed by the flowering branches of a nearby tree. Showing land, water, vegetation, and animal life, it is clear that the window's artist drew from nature for inspiration. The colors here, though less bright than some elaborate religious gained glass windows (those found in cathedrals and featuring reds, blues, and yellows, for example), the colors lean more towards realistic tones of a riverbank or shoreline (greens, blues, browns, and some pale pinks and yellows). Otherwise, we can see the classic stand glass texture. The sizes of the glass shapes create a bit of depth and some interesting patterns, like those made by the fish scales.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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