The Beauty of Functional Art

I love visiting my mom’s house in the beautiful Texas hill country.  There seems to be a peace in the hill country all its own–the many clear rivers, the luscious greenery, interesting caves and hills and canyons–the area is a treasure. My mom’s house is a treasure too, a tiny 1911 cottage with a huge yard that she has completely transformed in the twelve or so years she’s lived there.

Mom's 1911 Cottage in the Texas Hill Country

I see now that my mom is truly an artist.  She’s also a mom, and a professor, and a friend, and a colleague, and a writer, and a speaker. I respect and admire all those things about her. But one huge reason I like going to her house is to be in the middle of her artistic expression, and to feel the way it makes me feel. Engaged. Interested. Peaceful. Happy, even. Surrounded by beauty and art.

None of it is “museum art”.  You won’t be impressed with famous names or even pieces that look like they should be in a museum. Her art is truly expressive, mostly folk art and functional art. I mean, she has an antique doll head on top of a plant in a teapot.  Who does this? Well, she does, and it’s fabulous.

My Mom's Folk Art

On the long drive back to my home, I started thinking about how I feel in her house, and why I like her particular style so much. Maybe partly because she’s my mom, and I seem to have inherited her “quirky” gene. But I think it’s mainly because everything in her house feels intentional. Every beautiful or even strange object (like the doll’s head) is placed precisely where she wants it to be, with intent. This feels substantial to me, and I like it. It is artistry.

Functional art intrigues me very much because it represents the creative spirit in all of us (see Angus’ post about Art.) Shaker furniture may be the most recognized example of the best of functional art–pure beauty in its simple lines and curves, the best artistry and craftsmanship in its making, and an enduring statement about incorporating art and beauty into our daily mundane tasks. My mom has a lot of functional art in her home. The plastic cups we drink from are even artfully colorful in her exposed cabinets.

Exposed Cabinets

But there’s a reason they aren’t just plastic cups, but are instead colorful, textured, and perfect for the spot.  The reason is because she’s an artist, and her home is her canvas.

I want to grow up to be just like her.

Everything is Intentional

5 thoughts on “The Beauty of Functional Art

  1. I think that’s wonderful. I love people like your mom, and am almost always envious of their talent. They’re lives are an expression of who they are, and I yearn to be that free…

  2. AND I’m going to throw out some accidental stuff in my house today!
    Maybe I’ll discover something inside myself that’s been hiding under “stuff.” Thank you for the inspiration!

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