When I came across the book Baskets and Basket Makers in Southern Appalachia, I felt a deep reverence for the craft of basketry that marked the beginning of my thesis research. What started as a new discovery for generating volume led to a search for an intangible essence that emanated from these objects. The baskets in that book had a certain feel to them, they had a soul, a proof of existence and a life of utility. Their honest radiance transports the viewer to a different time and place, drawing visual connections with the maker who crafted the object with skill and passion. The result is an object humble in nature, yet so complex and multi-faceted in its nuances.
It was at this point that I turned my focus towards finding a way to conjure the intrinsic feelings that these baskets have and bring them into my own work. Through research and experimentation I have spent the last two years seeking ways of understanding the qualities I observe when admiring handmade objects, not only for the purpose of imparting my work with this information, but also as a way of finding a deeper meaning to the work I design and create.
In my thesis, I ask a number of questions in observation of the objects and people I draw inspiration from. Is it the feeling of value or significance one has when admiring a well-crafted object? Is it the simplicity of the form, or the way light activates a materials surface? Or is it the thoughtful sensibility and attention to detail from the maker who created the object? What can be learned from this object? Can I even begin to replicate this feeling I have into something new?
What is in part a critical study of my own aesthetic; through reflection and making; has become a way of quantifying the immaterial or intangible feeling I seek. The work created for this thesis attempts to bring to fruition my observations and findings throughout the process.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Furniture Design (MFA)
Department, Program, or Center
School for American Crafts (CAD)
Sarra, Fabiano, "In Search of Meaning" (2019). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus