A friend and I were viewing an installation piece. As we were walking away, a young man in his teens said to what I think was his mother, “That’s art? Really? I don’t get it? Why would someone call that art?” The mother responded, “There is no accounting for some people’s taste.”
The quote “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” originated in 3rd century Greece and is as true today as it was then. People see things in different ways. But that statement doesn’t just extend to art. It can be said about literature, music, architecture, fashion, design of utilitarian objects, food, etc.
It comes down to perception. Something that I perceive as beautiful… interesting… euphonic… classical…. elegant…. functional… tasty…. etc. others may find disturbing… boring… loud… vulgar… disgusting… etc. As exciting as it is to find others who enjoy similar art, music, food, etc., it would be a very boring world if we all liked the same things. I personally think that the differences are sometimes more interesting than the similarities.
This past spring, I reconnected with an old friend. When he found out that I was an artist, he told me that he didn’t know much about art but he knew what he liked. I think that we are innately drawn to certain things. As many of my friends and family know, I gravitate towards color, especially deep reds and rusty oranges. My brother loves spicy foods. One of my friends is into all things French. Another loves birds.
In my level 2 creativity class we look at the work from professional artist’s in the PBS Art 21 Series. I require my students to read Seth Godin’s blog from June 26, 2013 entitled “You don’t have to like new art, but it helps to understand it” before we look at any of the artist’s work. I want to make it very clear to my students that I don’t expect them to like everything that they see; but, that they have to respect the time and energy it took to create the artwork. And as Seth Godin says so eloquently in the blog, “Denigrating art you don’t understand doesn’t hurt the art–it reveals something about your willingness to learn.”
And this brings me back to the original story I started with. There were many installations at this site. Of all of them, that particular one was my least favorite. It did not speak to me. However, I appreciated the time, energy and creativity it took to make this piece of art. Although it did not speak to me, I know that it will speak to someone else. Because we are all different and we are all drawn to different things.
This experience helped to remind me that when we are talking about art or the things we find beautiful or not so beautiful, our ability to appreciate the differences and the work that went into the object, speaks volumes about us and our willingness to learn.
What do you find beautiful?