Thursday, July 8, 2010


I remember, as a first year art student, taking a break from my oil painting class to have a cup of coffee with my advisor. Drinking bad coffee from styrofoam cups in a warehouse that smelled of turpentine and linseed oil, he asked me, "Do you want to make 'beautiful' paintings all your life?" I blinked, and being young and naive, answered, "Well, yes ..." I could see nothing wrong with wanting to bring beauty into people's lives, even if my idea of beauty needed stretching a bit. I knew that the painting I'd seen that morning with a Special K logo and a hanger wasn't beautiful, and I knew that I wasn't destined to make art from household goods and breakfast cereals to emphasize the banality of contemporary life. Rather, if I were to make art from household goods and breakfast cereals, I wouldn't use them to point out how pathetic people's lives were, a category of art that was already being well populated at the time.

My ideas of beauty are quite changed now; some of the most ordinary things strike me with the memories they conjure, their colors and textures and lines. As Beethoven once said, "Yes, I know it's ugly, but is it beautiful?" I can't define beauty, but I know that it changes the lives of people that it touches.

How would you define beauty?

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