When I take this piece to DC – once it’s finished – do I want people to tell me, “It’s beautiful”?
When I was in art school, way back when, the ultimate (unspoken) insult was to call someone’s work “beautiful”. It stood in for “nice” (i.e. boring), and meant it was trite, not to be taken seriously, second – rate. No one wanted their work to be dismissed as beautiful. In fact, smudge it up, run a car over it, dip it in your bathtub – get something worth viewing, for Pete’s sake. In fact, all those things DID make the work interesting. And the sides of old worn down buildings still stand out to me as aesthetically attractive. I almost said beautiful.
I recall sometime in the early 2000’s reading a book on how to bring beautiful back into art. But now I hear the word differently, perhaps because I’ve been out of the context where there is so much phobia attached to the word, or maybe times have changed. It could be, in a world as immediate as ours is now – where we are assaulted by visual information of all sorts – that just simply the relief of seeing something beautiful has given that word a new life.
But I think that there can be a more innocent use of the word. Outside of the narrow confines of the art world, the word can be something that people mean sincerely and seek deeply. If I were successful in creating what I aim for, I would want there to be a restorative quality to my piece. I would want people to find rest in the colors and the flow of it. I’d want them to be transported, even if it’s ever so slightly, into a sense of dream – removed from the hustle and bustle of the moment – and to feel something inside. Something beautiful.