by Laurel Karnecki

Recently I drove through historic Grand Rapids, MI. There were so many lovely houses, even in these grey winter months, but there was one that I could not have ever imagined. Everything about this home was just right, the lines, the sprawling Prairie style, the smallest detail in every section of this work of art was spot on. It seemed to me that there was no front to the house, from every angle I could see character and beauty that drew me in. Incredible stained glass lined the walls, small tiles inlayed into the facade below the eaves, the style was very much in the vein of Frank Lloyd Wright, but the small details that pulled me in even closer were not typical of his work. 


I came home that night with the experience exciting my mind and creating a well of curiosity. I started researching, found that Frank Lloyd Wright had been commissioned to build the house, but that he had left the US before designing it, leaving it to other architects he had employed. From there I bingend Frank Lloyd Wrights work, drove by the houses he had built in South Bend (as luck would have it there are two) and read up as much as I could. Then it dawned on me, the architect that designed the initial house I saw, what else had they done?! Turned out it was Marion Mahony who designed this house in Grand Rapids (just blocks away from a lovely FLW house). Marion Mahony was the first licensed female architect the state if IL, she worked closely with FLW in his early career and was the artist behind many of his famous house renderings. Her career spanned over three continents and she created much more than just architecture. 

I don't believe "inspiration" is the correct word to describe what I've felt since that day in Grand Rapids. Yes, I do feel more excited to create and I do believe the work I've completed since is different than it would have been, but it's much more than that. It's given me a feeling that is a little bit closer to completion. It's moved me to dig deeper within myself, to take more time and to reflect further than I typically would on any given subject. My Aunt made the comment to me, about Marion being one of my teachers and I believe that puts it best, her work, her life has touched my life the way a great teacher does, forever enlightening their student just a bit more.