Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Function over form~

I spent the last day of 2011 with a group of photographers, taking pictures in Saint Anthony of Padua Church in New Bedford.  The ornate interior, decorated for the Christmas season, was beautiful. Gleaming floors and polished wooden pews reflected color and light from stained glass windows and detailed carvings. 

 Despite the color and detail available to shoot, I found myself drawn to the light that played through the rails of the drab stairway leading to the second and third levels of the church.

The stairs were off to the side of the foyer, easily overlooked by anyone intent upon entering the splendid sanctuary.  Probably those who trudge up to the choir loft, which looks out over the gleaming center aisle in the nave,  don’t give the stairs a second thought, but they are as necessary as the marble columns that support the arched ceiling. 

 A friend who saw my photos called the stairs “grungy and worn and burnished with age.”

And I thought …  if we live long enough, we’ll all end up worn. But burnished?  That’s something that comes only to those who allow the stresses of life to polish them, rather than scrape them raw. Not an easy thing. It comes, I think, from a willing acceptance of our purpose in life. As I said, not easy to accept that our function is ultimately greater than our form...especially in this world where glamor and glow distract us from inner beauty.

You can take no credit for beauty at sixteen.  But if you are beautiful at sixty, it will be your souls's own doing.  ~ Marie Sropes

It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic,

Of all things physical and metaphysical,
Of all things human and all things super-human,
Of all true manifestations of the head,
Of the heart, of the soul,
That the life is recognizable in its expression,
That form ever follows function. This is the law.
~ American architect Louis Sullivan


Canadapt said...

... "allow the stresses of life to polish them, rather than scrape them raw." I like this notion ... well said and great photographs!

Mona Vanek said...

I love this post, Ruth, especially for your insights, as well as your lovely photography. I'm sending the link to my hubby's email, in hopes he'll discover there are wonderful things to read and enjoy on the Internet ... in addition to GoogleEarth and tool-supply businesses, and motor manuals.

Mona ~~

JeannetteLS said...

Just came in through Pauline's blog. I love the quote at the end... and those warm stairs and shadows.

I think some people become beautiful worn, burnished wood and some become prisms, even--every hurt is another cut in the glass that can throw colors in the sun.

What a lovely blog you have here!

Wendy said...

Lovely writing and photography, Ruth. I like how you put it, 'our function is ultimately greater than our form'. Even so, I like how you captured the light falling onto the form. Makes me realize I should go stand in the light more often. No harm in letting sunlight enhance my form too. :)