There is much debate in the art world concerning the roles of and differences between fine art and functional art. “Fine” typically relates to work that is created for a gallery or museum setting, that can be more or less academically based or supported. “Functional” can also be made for a gallery in mind, and relates to, well, art that comes with strings attached. Example: This teapot has a quirky spout and handle, sculptural elements and an experimental glazing technique but in the end, it is intended for another use, to be admired while performing its civil duties. Modernists argued intensely about the arts in culture, breaking away from traditional roles. I personally feel that functional or decorative (as it sometimes called) art has gotten a bad reputation for reasons that are beyond its control and have more to do with swinging attitudes in society.
A shirt I recently purchased borders the characteristics of both fine and functional design. This shirt has a wide, wide collar and frail, little screen print drawings on its front that at first I associated with either balloons, Russian Constructivist palm trees, or missiles. After staring and staring at the collar of the shirt and the faint, cute-ish graphics, I pressed my fingers to my heart, careful to avoid a deadly mistake, and liked what I saw.
In a fail swoop, my wallet opened to my hand, money left the account, and the shirt is now on its way to being mine. The problem with being in stores, whether physical or digital, is that there is a correlation between the time spent there and the amount you spend. For me, the cost doesn’t rise, it plummets. I usually put back the few things that I liked, upset and demoralized. And so, now that some time has passed, I may have made a bad decision. Talking with a friend about it, she quipped, “The shirt would be great for pajamas. Just not for wearing in public.”
Bitten Off More than I Should Chew
I made a self-creation pasta recipe the other night, which is frequently the start of an interesting evening. The noodles were boiled out of their hard-headed shells and morphed into my own image, namely pliable and subservient. Plopped into a bowl, topped with fresh garlic, basil, olive oil, chopped romaine lettuce and avocado, I knew something was missing. The missing something has a solid reputation for being the “Salt of the Earth”. It is called Salt.
Those salt containers with built-in grinders are quite convenient and easy to use. Just twist the containers while upside down and ground salt is freshly brewed before you! Firmly gripping the salt grinder, I wrenched it clockwise to get a finely ground powder. If there is one thing I have learned in life, it is that a firm hand is taken seriously. In fact, while watching a slide show at an awards presentation, a quote came up from the Bible. For those that aren’t familiar with a book in the Bible called Ecclesiastes, there is a verse that goes a little something like this: “”Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…”
The top of the container shattered, dumping whole blocks of salt on top of the pasta. Not one to be so emotionally small that I would throw my hands up in despair, I gingerly picked out the larger pieces and ate (quickly, as the night unfolds fast after 10:30pm). Noodles hanging out of my mouth, I lifted my head to take a breather from eating. Glancing at the now broken grinder, a thought dawned on me as I chewed.
There were broken bits of plastic in my pasta and I had no idea if I had taken them out.
With diet, I am sure that most people eat for function as well as aesthetics. There is a whole industry and artistry based on the preparing and designing of food that look and taste appetizing. This is called the CULINARY ARTS. For every beautifully articulated culinary creation, there is an equally satisfying, perhaps romantic image, of a bowl set down in front of you, accompanied by the words, “It may not be pretty, but it’s hot and will fill your belly.”
Mt. Saint Helens. Photo: Roddy Scheer
I find that I approach eating as a way to fuel my athletic endeavors, so it can be tricky to create and aesthetically appreciate nutritionally dense food. Often, I do not have major problems with rinsing canned bans, chopping up lettuce, shaking out some nutritional yeast, shredding carrots, chopping garlic, mixing all of it in a big bowl with hemp oil and apple cider vinegar and eating it. Straight out of the mixing bowl, folks. Or eating slices of bread for dinner, one right after the other. When it gets that bad, I turn to you Cook books. Humble bundles of coated paper, cook books are often overlooked, but when accompanied by images, they can create the proverbial order out of chaos. Muffins are one of the foods that fit the bill; they are both nutritionally dense and very cute to look at. Their intent is clear but that rounded top brings to mind sublime associations like Mt. Saint Helens.
The first muffin recipe that I have made can be found here, though it first appeared in a vegan cookbook (I forget the name…sorry!)
1 cup whole wheat flour (or other flour of your choice. ex: garbanzo bean flour, etc.)
1 cup unbleached white flour ( or other flour your choice. The recipe will not be fluffy, but pay that no mind)
1/2 cup powdered soy protein concentrate (or other protein. ex: rice, hemp, whey, etc.)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large bananas
3/4 cup soymilk (or other milk)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup molasses (black strap)
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 cup raisins or 1 cup other dried fruit
-Preheat oven to 350°F.
-Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray.
-Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
-In another bowl combine wet ingredients.
-Add they dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.
-Fold in dried fruits.
-Fill muffin tins (they will be full).
-Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
The variations are endless on this recipe. I have added nuts, vegetables, other fruit, even Maca powder, which has tantalizingly been called by some as the “Superfood of the Andes” or “Viagra of Peru”.
Sitting with a muffin resting in my hand, my contemplation of its role as an object and as a perishable item of consumption rises along with the grumbling of my stomach. Obediently, my hand lifts the crumbly muffin to my mouth and it seems that function and form have surprisingly made peace with each other, before the end of all things.