metal artwork with motion

Bringing Motion (and Emotion) to your Art

Generally speaking, art is a static creation that “sits there” waiting for you to look at it. But when that art moves it takes a more active role in art appreciation and pulls the viewer into the piece. And when your medium of choice is something rather cold and rigid like steel, you need to find ways to bring it to life.

Custom Steel Furniture: Refined and Redefined

I love the inherit permanence of steel. When people first see a steel piece of art they can’t help but have a preconceived notion of what it is all about. It’s cold, heavy, will last for generations and is intimidating. I like to use that notion to catch people off guard and I’ve found that motion does a good job at that. Whether that motion is perceived or actual it has the same effect: It draws people into the piece and actually creates an interaction between the two. And once that happens they can’t help but be moved by it themselves.

The Nature of Steel Art

The use of organic elements lends itself to creating the sense of motion instantly. People are used to seeing leaves twist and bend in the wind, so in their mind they’re doing a lot of the work by themselves without even realizing it. When I make realistic curves in leaves, branches, and flowers and stems it helps make the connection even easier. That area of conflict between rigid steel and flowing organic shapes is a fun place to be.

Bringing actual motion to a piece is a little trickier. It can be distracting and irritating so it must be subtle and controllable and the piece must stand on its own even when the motion is not happening. For instance, I made a console table called The Secret Garden that features a glass top above a maze of flowers, leaves and stems and when you place a bumblebee- colored marble in a hole at one end it winds its way through them, “pollinating” as it goes. (Click to see it in action.) It instantly pulls anyone within view into the experience and has a 100% rate of creating smiles. The table still looks beautiful and functional even if you never know what a placing a marble in it can do. Secret Garden, indeed.

If you are an artist who wants the audience to engage with your work try building in a little motion to create a lot of emotion.


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