Sara Owens Volume 38.1 Preview

Sara Owens: Inspiring Wonder

PROTEUS SERIES BROOCH/SCULPTURE CONVERTIBLES of bone, brass, coffee filters, formed, fabricated, papier-mâché, largest: 12.7 centimeters, 2008-2011. ADAPTATION #5 RING of sterling silver, wool, formed, fabricated, needle felted, 10.2 centimeters, 2014. ADAPTATION #3 BROOCH of sterling silver, wool, formed, fabricated, needle felted, 10.2 centimeters, 2014.

At first glance, Sara Owens’s island studio appears to be the private study of a naturalist with a taste for the mysterious. A large vitrine displays half a dozen objects that seem to come from the natural world, though not a world most of us have seen. Some of the palm-sized objects are bulbous, metallic forms attached at odd angles to bits of bone. Others look like tiny meteorites mated to decaying seedpods. Nearby a wooly brown lifeform of some kind—moss? bacteria?—has settled comfortably into the center of a metal mesh saucer.

If the objects make you think about what they might be and how they came to look the way they do, Owens, who made them all, would be pleased. Above all, she says, “I want my work to inspire wonder.” Owens is a jewelrymaker and every one of the objects is a brooch. The pieces represent her fascination with the idea that in the natural world, design follows function. They are also testament to her enthusiastic exploration of materials, particularly nontraditional materials. One of the hallmarks of her work is an ability to coax evocative texture and shape out of materials as mundane as paper coffee filters and hardware-store sink drains.