Saturday, April 10, 2010

Weekend Art School - Rina Banerjee

Rina Banerjee is an installation artist, sculpter and painter who consistently turns out a stunning mix of beauty, sensuality and irony.

Per, the Indian born, New York City based artist Rina Banerjee has a love of materials, heritage textiles, fashion, colonial objects and furnishings, historical architecture, and their ability to disguise, animate, locate their inherent meanings in her art work. While sculptures and drawings, paintings and videos which are a fusion of cultures and an explosion of imagination. She says her work explores "specific colonial moments that reinvent place and identity as complex diasporic experiences."

Resisting Rest by Rina Banerjee

Banerjee was born in Kolkata in 1963 and moved with her family to the UK and then to USA. She completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Polymer Engineering at Case Western University in 1993 after took a job as a polymer research chemist consulting for Dow Chemical, Nasa, etc at Pennsylvania State University. After a few years abandoned the sciences to pursue her art, she completed the MFA degree program at Yale University School of Art in the area of Painting in 1995, where she won prestigious awards for Drawing and Painting, Sckowhegan - Yale Painting scholarship and Norfolk-Yale summer program Drawing award.

Installation by Rina Banerjee

Rina Banerjee's experience growing up in urban sites and in communities of mixed cultural/racial locations provides a content in her work that delivers a global all seeking vision. This love of substance, fabric and texture manifests itself in her multi media works in which disparate objects such as taxidermy alligators and wooden cots, fish bone, ostrich eggs and light bulbs, amber vials are strung up or nestled in with feathers and umbrellas, souveniers of low culture and high culture, antique furnishings, icons of different faiths and plumes of fabric.

Birds of Appetite She Who Is Exiled Now Hovering

Her preoccupation with the role of culture, mythology, fairy tales, anthropology, ethnography fold the trajectories of race, exotic capital, and the forces of our migration, mobility with tourism and global commerce. Tensions and desires created out of our individual increased travel and access to information technologies have preforiated our boundaries creating a malleabity that manages a globalized sense of space and a diminished experience of dominant culture paradigm.

All information courtesy of

Friday, April 9, 2010

Living an Art-Full Life

Finally it is Friday - YAYE! Heading to the Florida Marlins home opener game tonight and the Delray Affair art fest this weekend. 

Monday I will bring you my top picks from the Delray Affair but today I bring you what I call "Living the Art-Full Life".

At Pretty.Useful.Stuff. we pride ourselves on living the art-full life which basically means that we strive to find beauty, creativity and art in everything we do in life.  It can be something as simple as seeing the inspiration of a plastic bag blowing in the breeze (thanks American Beauty) to acknowledging the artistry in a billboard on the highway on the way to work or just to committing ourselves to actively nurturing our creativity.

The Art-Full life is a  happier life and it makes us equally as happy to share it with you! Here are some images to get you started in looking for the art inspirations that surround us:

Cinda Danh focuses her camera on the beauty of newspaper boxes
 (courtesy of

E.O. Wilson showcases inspiration in the form and colors of two ants
 (courtesy of Alexander Wild)

Robert Levy proves that even laundry can be beautiful

From my backyard - Chinese Lantern flowers are nature's creativity bursting out

Keep living the Art-Full life! Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thursday Treasury

I love Etsy. Since the day I started my store has been on and I have met some of the nicest people in the world through the site. Therefore, every week I plan on paying homage by featuring all Etsy stores and artists in Treasury Thursday.

Last night I dreamt that I had a four headed dog and I toured with a circus after training him to jump through a fiery hoop.  No clue what that means, but it gave me the perfect theme for this week's treasury:


Jen's A Freak Show - Bearded Lady
Original Painting By See Jens Creations

1 1/2" Button By The Angry Robot

Amazing Tripod Girl - Freak Show Diva By Artsy

Victorian Grotesque Medical Curiousity Garland

Two Heads Are Better Than One - The Brothers

Freak Show Ticket Stub Wooden Pendant

SAMSON MERMAN Underwater Circus Strongman

OWLCTOPUS Necklace Pendant By Cosmic Firefly

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Whatever Happened, Happened

I am not ashamed to say that I think LOST (and all of the marketing and side promotion that went with it) is the most brilliant drama on television. For comedy I would have to go with Arrested Development, but now I am getting side tracked. We shall save the Bluths for another day.  

Every Tuesday night my friends come over and we watch LOST in silence. No one speaks until the commercials and then every break leads to 10-15 people yelling over one another to come up with the best theories.  Normally we mute the ads, but due to a lost remote control the sound was on and despite the raucous, one commercial caught everyone's attention. 

The ad that shut us up was the new Census 2010 ad.  It is vibrant, cheery and perfectly artsy and fun. While it is no trippy cat food commercial, it does inspire me to play and be crafty and....fill out census forms... It definitely inspired me to look up some other clay goodness, and oh to the wonderful things that led me to.

Take a look:

My search brought me first to Camille Young, a polymer clay extraordinaire who makes unbelievable jewelry that is a far, far cry from the mushed together Sculpey pieces I used to try to make.
(P.S. not knocking Sculpey at all. I LOVE it, I am just totally unskilled at it)

I covet Camille's Strawberry necklace and pretty much anything using her  signature leaves (see her blog for a killer tutorial).  It is fanciful and eclectic and would go great with a dress I just bought (hint, hint...)

On the next commercial break we wondered what could be made out of clay that had to do with LOST. You would be amazed at what is out there, but I am especially fond of the Dharma Jewelry from The Clay Collection.  It is small enough so I can be discreet about my geekiness, but bold enough to say "yeah, I know the"

Of course as far as LOST jewelry goes, the piece I have been eyeing and considering buying is actually not made of clay, but since this is probably the only post I will do about the show, I had to include the "Its Stressful Being An Other" necklace from Spiffing Jewelry. 

And now I shall leave you with this: In 2009 in Tel Aviv, three fans LOST recreated scenes of the show with figures of the entire cast that they sculpted from clay (  Now THAT is some dedication.


My parents gave us a crock pot this past weekend. In the time it took me to look up healthy slow cooker recipes, my husband had settled on a dinner of bbq pork with apples, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts and biscuits.  Healthy went out the window, but damn was it tasty. 

Of course now all I can think about is food. To curb my cravings I decided to forgo calories all together and instead binge on some diet friendly, stylish food fun. 

 Get stuffed without eating a bite. 
Go Buggy on ( makes charming felted and stuffed food. I am torn between the bucket of fish and the double skewers as my favorite, but I think the mushroom on the skewer is darling enough to take it to the top. 

2 Skwers by Go Buggy

People have said to use chopsticks to eat slower and therefore and help manage portion control. The problem is that I am not the most skilled at using chopsticks, and while I would love to eat sushi for lunch, I feel bad subjecting my coworkers to my eel roll flying across the table. Yes, I could do the Macgyver and tie a rubber band around some paper to anchor the sticks together - but World Wide Fred's CHIMPSTICKS are a much cuter way to go (

World Wide Fred's CHIMPSTICKS

Need a sugar fix but I don't want to undo the hard work at the gym? 
urn to some taste bud tantalizing food art.

Art by Edith Zimmerman

And just in time for my first cup of coffee - one of my all-time favorite blogs "A Beautiful Mess" ( showcased these yummy coffee cozies by my other favorite Twinkie Chan (

Coffee Cozies by Twinkie Chan

Have any of your own food crafts? I'd love to see them! Send a comment or email me at
 Follow Emily on Twitter at

Monday, April 5, 2010

Cleaning up my Act

Every weekend I try to create something new but sometimes life gets in the way of that. Between work, friends, family, my husband and general day-to-day happenings, the art tends to get pushed aside.  This weekend we spring cleaned the house, which meant organizing the art room (insert ominous music here).  To block out the sound of impending dread we cranked up the Sam Cooke music and got to work. 

Beneath piles of sequins, fabric and paint I found a couple of pieces that had been started and never completed.  It made me realize that several things need to happen:

1. I need to nurture my creativity more and realize that creating is just as important as working (at least to maintain my sanity!)
2. I need to stay better organized in the art room so I don't "lose" art pieces
3. I should clean more often

Inspired by all of this, I took a break from cleaning (maybe step 4 should be to stop procrastinating!) and I found some killer organizational accessories and cleaning supplies that are funky, stylish and will hopefully inspire me to clean up my act once and for all.

Laundry is always one of my least favorite chores (My VERY least favorite being vacuuming, but we just moved into a house with hardwood floors to avoid it).  I feel like I should like doing laundry. You get a break in between steps which is always a nice and lazy way of cleaning, but it just feels tedious to me.  However, maybe if my hamper was cuter, I would be more excited about making more trips over to it.  offers some of the most adorable hampers on the market:

Poppy Hamper by HooHobbers

I am lucky that my husband actually finds doing dishes relaxing (freak, lol) so it doesn't come up often that I have my hands in sink water, but if I did - you can be sure I would be rocking these kitchy retro gloves from Julie Meyer on Etsy

Clean InStyle Tulip Gloves by Julie Meyers

When possible, I also recommend using vinegar, lemon juice and all-natural cleaning products in the home. They are safer for the family and the environment and easier on the wallet too.  However, if you are going to be purchasing cleaning supplies a few that make the top of my list are:

1. Method - available at Target and eco-friendly. Love it for ease of access, good fragrance choices and sleek/ modern bottles

2. Mrs. Meyers - available at Also eco-friendly, Mrs. Meyers offers more concentrated scents than Method (not scientific, just my humble opinion).  For me - nothing beats their Geranium cleaner.

3. - new liquid soap packaged in recycled plastic and glass bottles.  Very modern and VERY environmentally friendly.  Love the "labels" on these. 

Soap in an old Heineken Bottle at

Stay clean my friends!