Eulogy for Ornament
We are bereft of ornament. We are surrounded by architecture and objects with flat planes, smooth curves and straight lines. I grieve over this loss of ornament.
In Europe there are gothic cathedrals dripping with ornament. Imagine what it must be like, always living in the shadow of these forests of luscious decoration. Ornament is a testament to generations of human skill. Ornament calls upon the viewer to actively look and see, to get lost in seas of foliage because it is impossible to take in the whole in one glance. What if this lack of ornament is making us less observant, less competent to interact with the physical world in which live?
Those builders of gothic cathedrals were able to draw upon generations of skilled craftsmanship. The skills that they utilized were not just built up over one lifetime but were the result of generations of lifetimes building a culture of skilled craft. We (in the contemporary United States) have lost this, maybe we never had it. In the pursuit of craftsmanship we are already behind.
Maybe the reinstatement of handmade ornament can restore this lack. I make objects that embody ornament, decoration and detail. Decoration is inherent to the structure of my work, it is built of ornament. I want the viewer to float, lost in rolling waves of detail.