25 Jun Sculpting from the Ground Up: with Malene B

We are constantly being inspired by the world around us and love finding artists who feel the same way!  Malene Barnett is a creative influencer and founder of  Malene B Atelier. She is known for her designs of bespoke carpets and conceptualized paintings. Having traveled to Africa, Southeast Asia, and Europe her works of art are always evolving just like the mediums she works with. These unique designs bring in elements from around the world to create beautiful and meaningful pieces.

Tell us more about your creative background! What led you to this point?
“When I was in the third grade I was selected for a program called Artistically Talented. Each week we drew and painted still lifes and portraits. I continued to study fine arts in middle and high school. During high school I entered contests, and my work was selected to be on permanent display at my hometown’s City Hall.”

“I fell in love with carpet design at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) and when I was hired as a carpet designer for a large carpet manufacturer this was my entry way into the industry. Once I learned more about the business I was hooked and saw it as a medium to make me stand out as a designer. After working in the industry for 10 years I launched Malene B in 2009.”

You mentioned your work is inspired by various cultures and you have traveled to over 25 countries! What message are you trying to portray through your art?
“Every time I travel I learn about the culture, experience rituals, build relationships with the people, and immerse myself in the environment. I use the experience as a source of inspiration for my art. I use my work as a tool to inspire you to connect with our global community.”

Formally trained in fashion illustration and textile surface design, how did you make the transition to fine art and bespoke carpet?
“My background in art is fine art. Most people don’t know that I studied painting and photography during my first two years of college. The textile surface design program at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) showed me how to merge fine art into bespoke carpets. It was a natural transition.”

We see that you also create sculptural clay pieces! What inspired you to create 3D art beyond your 2D carpets and paintings?
“I was very curious about clay, so I decided to challenge myself to see what I could make 3 dimensionally.  I loved the challenge and fell in love with a new medium.”

Tell us more about your design process.
“I think about places that I’ve visited around the world, and then I sort through photographs to draw inspiration. When something hits me then I start sketching, create a composition, add color then proceed with the final renderings.”

What’s next for you?
“In the fall, I will be participating in a ceramic studio residency at Greenwich House Pottery in Manhattan. I will be working on a series of vessels inspired my mud architecture in Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana. Plus, I plan to spend more time abroad in tropical environments to be closer to the people and places that inspire me and my work.”


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