For me, beauty is really what it’s all about. I get so much joy from spending time in my studio working with beautiful colors, wonderful textures, sublime shapes... I love to try to improve the aesthetics of my surroundings. So when someone sent me an article recently, “When Beauty Strikes” (David Brooks, in The New York Times), it inspired me to write my first blog post.
The article talks about beauty and its potential to elevate us in a spiritual way. It goes on to describe how contemporary culture does not appreciate this. This got me wondering, “Why is beauty under-appreciated?” When we disregard the power of beauty we are really missing out! These current popular ideas might influence how we view beauty:
Beauty is Escapist.
Some in the contemporary art world seem to associate beauty with a lack of insight and sophistication. They see a piece that is merely beautiful as denying the harsh realities of life. I value art that exposes the darker side of things, but would argue that another important function of art is to focus on the visual delights in the world. The media constantly exposes us to gruesome acts of humanity. Our own lives are full of struggles and challenges. We can counteract this by taking a few moments to absorb the loveliness of an object, or a view. We’re not necessarily trying to escape reality, but remaining open to all of its aspects.
Beauty isn’t Edgy.
One is adopting a very narrow definition of beauty when one says it isn't "edgy." One should remember that that which is on the cutting edge today, often becomes a standard of beauty in the future. Some of the most impactful works of modern times are those that have a powerful aesthetic along with a pioneering message. And don't forget that innovative designs are most successful when incorporating a high level of visual appeal.
Beauty is Elitist.
Beauty is in every day things. It is not reserved only for the wealthy and privileged. Anyone can enjoy the way sunlight reflects off a building at the end of the day, or the glow in a loved one's eye. I think the most valuable artistic creations are not isolated pieces hanging on a wall (and selling for fortunes at auction), but those that are interwoven into the things we interact with every day.
Valuing beauty does not necessarily mean you're sentimental, snobby or old-fashioned. And any small vision of beauty can take you out of your own head --don't forget to look!
Final Note: Many thanks to those who contribute to the beauty in our communal environment! Thanks to the street artists, guerilla gardeners, yarn bombers, and all crusaders, who have an impact on the attractiveness of our shared world.